Sam Allard / Scene
The face Kerry McCormack makes when he's forced to threaten legal action to obtain the public report he'd been pushing for.
A consulting firm has created a plan to upgrade the City of Cleveland's parking meters in a phased approach that would finally allow motorists to pay for individual parking spaces via credit card and mobile app at sidewalk kiosks.
But the plan, which was created in 2019 by the firm Desman Design Management, was kept under wraps by Mayor Frank Jackson's administration. Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack has long been council's most vocal advocate for modernized parking meters. He told WEWS Channel 5 that he had to file a public records request to obtain the plan from the city. And in comments to Scene, he said that city council's lawyers were hours away from filing a lawsuit against the administration in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to force their hand.
"If only I could get inside their minds," McCormack mused, when asked why the administration had kept the report from him. "It doesn't have to be like this."
The plan's first phase recommends installing 333 multi-space parking meters covering nearly 2,7000 parking spaces downtown and in select Cleveland neighborhoods. After the second phase, with 193 more meters, the plan would cost the city $3.5 million dollars.
The consultant estimated that the city would recoup its investment in as little as 3-4 years, given their recommendation for increased parking rates downtown ($1.50 per hour instead of $1 per hour), the potential for dynamic pricing during special events, the likelihood of greater per-transaction payments with credit cards, and the elimination of "piggybacking" on unexpired meters.
McCormack told Scene that the proposed kiosks would accept both cash and credit card and could be linked to a mobile app. Those without credit cards or smart phones could still pay with quarters and dollar bills, but others, who are constantly searching for spare change as they roll up to the meter, will have the long-awaited option to pay by other means.
"This is low-hanging fruit," McCormack said, an echo of comments he's made about upgrading the meters for years. He said that he has asked Ward 2 Councilman Kevin Bishop, who chairs the municipal services committee, to schedule a hearing on the Desman Design Management plan, but that a date is not yet firmly on the books.
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