How Sensors and Trolleys Could Ease Winter Park’s Parking Pains

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The city of Winter Park is investigating new parking solutions for the downtown area and beyond.

A 30-day pilot program will utilize sensors, placed on the brick pavement along Park Avenue, and test their effectiveness in identifying available parking spots.

The sensors are not unlike those used to track parking in local garages and in downtown Orlando, where metered parking works in conjunction with an app that keeps track of available parking spots. However, parking along Park Avenue poses a different challenge.

According to City of Winter Park Director of Communications Clarissa Howard, downtown’s unmarked parking areas means there is no way of accounting for vehicle size and the space between parked vehicles.

“This pilot is only to test if the city can even have something in place in these unmarked parking areas that has the ability to tell guests if there is or is not space available for a vehicle to park,” Howard told the32789. “The goal is to learn if this is or is not doable with sensor technology.”

Sensors were installed on June 7 and the program comes at no cost to the city. The pilot program will not be used as a form of parking enforcement and there are no plans for the technology beyond the 30-day test. “Once we see data from the pilot, we will go from there,” said Howard.

The pilot program comes a little more than a month after a number of parking spaces were freed up with the removal of Park Avenue’s Curbside To-Go program. The City Commission also approved the creation of a parking lot annex at the Winter Park Library & Events Center to remedy the lack of available spaces when large events coincide with library hours.

City Commission is also considering the possibility of a downtown trolley/shuttle route that would include Park, Fairbanks, and Orange Avenues, Progress Point, the Library & Events Center, and Winter Park Village. Stops would also include nearby parking lots to help ease citywide parking issues.

“If you started at north Park Avenue, went down to Fairbanks and then to Progress Point, there are a lot of lots that are lightly used during the week, if at all, that we can take advantage of,” said Commissioner Todd Weaver at the June 22 city meeting.

If approved, the concept would be one of the ways the city could utilize funds from the proposed Orange County transportation tax if it is passed by voters in November.

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