MADEIRA BEACH — Coin-operated meters at every parking space in the city may be a thing of the past.
Instead, the City Commission is considering installing strategically placed automated meters that visitors can activate and pay with their cellphones.
"The day of coin-operated meters is just out the door," City Manager Shane Crawford told the commission last week.
He is recommending the city spend at least $286,000 to replace meters at John's Pass Village, South Beach, the gulf-front Archibald Park, and at the city's smaller metered parking lots at 130th, 131st, 132nd, 133rd, 134th, 135th and 135th avenues.
"We have the money, we have issued bid requests, and we have a quality vendor," he said.
A contract with the winning bidder, PSX/Cale America, is expected to be signed sometime in November, according to Crawford, and the installations will begin in early 2013.
New meters at Archibald Park will be delayed until remodeling of the park is completed. That project will be bid at the earliest in January, Crawford said.
Because of construction of a planned restaurant next to Kitty Stewart Park, installation of meters there will also be delayed.
Each meter will cost more than $8,000, but only several meters are required for each lot.
They are solar-powered and communicate electronically with a central facility via modem.
The electronic meters will be capable of accepting coins and credit cards, and will issue parking receipts that visitors would place in car windows.
The meters also can be set up for visitors to pay by smartphone, and to alert car owners when the meter is about to expire and allow them to add more money.
"We can probably make more money, and the ease of running the meters would become more professional," Crawford said.