QR code system taken into account for paid parking at Fish Pier

ByShannon J. Cortes

Jun 8, 2022

CHATHAM – A paid parking pilot program for the Upper Lot of the Municipal Fishing Wharf may be implemented in early summer.

But rather than using a kiosk through which visitors pay for parking, authorities plan to take advantage of a system already used for waterway permits where visitors scan a QR code with a smartphone and pay online.

“It’s a lot simpler” than a kiosk, Harbor Master Stuart Smith told members of the city’s parking solutions task force. “Most people have [smartphones] and are getting more and more used to these QR codes.

A QR code is a symbol that, when scanned by a smartphone, directs the user to a website. In this case, it would link to a site where visitors could enter payment for parking using a credit card.

The capital plan approved at last month’s town meeting provided $18,000 for the purchase of a gazebo for the fish wharf lot. But this money will not be available until July 1 and it is unlikely that a kiosk system can be implemented for the current summer season. The QR code system, however, could be implemented quickly and inexpensively, Smith said, requiring only signs with the code and instructions.

“It doesn’t involve setting up a machine or anything like that,” Smith said. “It’s really just the software and the signs.”

Parking has always been a problem at the Fishing Pier, which is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, if not the most popular. Every day during the summer, thousands of visitors flock to the pier’s newly renovated viewing platform to watch fishermen landing and seals swimming in the waters of Aunt Lydia’s Cove. The situation is likely to be exacerbated this summer after the select council banned parking on Barcliff Avenue, across Shore Road from the pier, long used for pier overflow parking. Neighbors complained that cars along the north side of the road made it difficult to travel on the road for traffic and emergency vehicles. Signs posted on the street warn that parking is now subject to a $50 fine.

The cost or duration of paid parking at the pier is not yet determined. The pilot program would only apply to the Upper Pier lot. The lower lot is reserved for owners of commercial fishing vessels over 30 feet in length holding a wharf offloading permit; Smith said his office issued twice as many permits as there were parking spaces in the lower lot. There are also several spaces in the lower lot reserved for us by Chatham Pier Fish Market customers. Parking in the upper lot is limited to boat crew permit holders between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., and three spaces are reserved for one hour of parking, Smith said.

The impact of time-limited paid parking on several businesses that operate from the pier is also a concern, he said. The market, charter fishing boats, and the Beachcomber beach shuttle all use the top lot, and patrons of the latter businesses sometimes leave their vehicles there all day. There are also two pages of fishing pier parking regulations that need to be changed if paid parking is implemented, he said. Changes must be approved by both the select committee and the Aunt Lydia’s Cove committee, and recruiting members of the latter, mostly commercial fishermen, is a “challenge” now that the fishing season has begun.

Paid parking would also apply to the section of Shore Road that runs alongside the wharf, Smith said. There is precedent for on-street parking pricing; beach or city permits are required to park along Bridge Street near Lighthouse Beach.

Jeffrey Dykens, chairman of the board and member of the parking committee, suggested removing spaces from Shore Road, which he says are unsafe. “Passing cars are tight. Children and people unload. It’s a nightmare. It’s very bad,” he said.

“We created our own nightmare there with the observation deck which is so beautiful and such a big tourist attraction, Dykens said, “but we didn’t address parking in any way or shape or form.” He supports a shuttle to outlying car parks like elementary school and middle school as long-term solutions to downtown and fishing pier parking issues. Otherwise, he said, “we’re trying to put a size nine foot in a size seven shoe. We don’t have enough capacity.”

Dockworkers and other harbor master staff who oversee the fish pier would enforce paid parking, Smith said. They would have access to the online system and could match vehicle license plates with paid time periods, and could issue tickets for violations as they currently do.

The system the city has used for two years for mooring, mooring and other waterway permits was modeled after that used by Sesuit Harbor in Dennis, Smith said, and has worked well. These permits do not use QR codes, but he plans to use the codes for city landing launch permits. Like the proposed parking plan, signs posted at drop-off areas would include a QR code and instructions.

Smith said officials at software company Duxbury MooringInfo, which created the system used by his office, said it could be used for paid parking. Members of the parking committee agreed to invite company representatives to their June 10 meeting to discuss its implementation at the dock.

CHATHAM – A paid parking pilot program for the Upper Lot of the Municipal Fish Pier could be implemented in early summer. But rather than using a kiosk through which visitors pay for parking, officials plan to take advantage of a system already used for waterway permits whereby visitors scan a QR code with a smartphone and pay online. “It’s a lot simpler” than a kiosk, Harbor Master Stuart Smith told members of the city’s parking solutions task force. “Most people have [smartphones] and are getting more and more used to these QR codes. A QR code is a symbol that, when scanned by a smartphone, takes the user to a website. In this case, it would link to a site where visitors could enter payment for parking using a credit card. The capital plan approved at last month’s town meeting called for $18,000 to purchase a gazebo for the fish pier lot. But this money will not be available until July 1 and it is unlikely that a kiosk system can be implemented for the current summer season. The QR code system, however, could be implemented quickly and inexpensively, Smith said, requiring only signs with the code and instructions. “It doesn’t involve setting up a machine or anything like that,” Smith said. “It’s really just the software and the panels.” Parking has always been a problem at the Fishing Pier, which is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, if not the most popular. Every day during the summer, thousands of visitors flock to the pier’s newly renovated viewing platform to watch fishermen landing and seals swimming in the waters of Aunt Lydia’s Cove. The situation is likely to be exacerbated this summer after the select council banned parking on Barcliff Avenue, across Shore Road from the pier, long used for pier overflow parking. Neighbors complained that cars along the north side of the road made it difficult to travel on the road for traffic and emergency vehicles. Signs posted on the street warn that parking there is now subject to a $50 fine. The cost or duration of paid parking at the pier has not yet been determined. The pilot program would only apply to the Upper Pier lot. The lower lot is reserved for owners of commercial fishing vessels over 30 feet in length holding a wharf offloading permit; Smith said his office issued twice as many permits as there were parking spaces in the lower lot. There are also several spaces in the lower lot reserved for us by Chatham Pier Fish Market customers. Parking in the upper lot is limited to boat crew permit holders between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., and three spaces are reserved for one-hour parking, Smith said. a concern, he said. The market, charter fishing boats, and the Beachcomber beach shuttle all use the top lot, and patrons of the latter businesses sometimes leave their vehicles there all day. There are also two pages of fishing pier parking regulations that need to be changed if paid parking is implemented, he said. Changes must be approved by both the Select Committee and the Aunt Lydia’s Cove Committee, and recruiting members of the latter, mostly commercial fishermen, is a “challenge” now that the fishing season has begun. Paid parking would also apply to the section of Shore Road that runs alongside the pier lot, Smith said. There is precedent for on-street parking pricing; beach or city permits are required to park along Bridge Street near Lighthouse Beach. Jeffrey Dykens, chairman of the board and member of the parking committee, suggested removing spaces from Shore Road, which he says are unsafe. “Passing cars are tight. Children and people unload. It’s a nightmare. It’s very bad,” he said. “We created our own nightmare there with the observation deck which is so beautiful and such a big tourist attraction, Dykens said, “but we don’t haven’t addressed parking in any way.” It supports a shuttle to outlying parking lots like elementary school and middle school as long-term solutions to downtown and fishing pier parking issues. Otherwise, he said, “we’re trying to fit a size nine foot in a size seven shoe. We don’t have enough capacity. Dockworkers and other harbor masters who oversee the fishing pier would enforce paid parking, Smith said. They would have access to the online system and could match vehicle license plates with paid time periods, and could issue tickets for violations as they do now. two years was modeled after the one used by Sesuit Harbor in Dennis, Smith said, and worked well. These permits do not use QR codes, but he plans to use the codes for city landing launch permits. Like the proposed parking plan, signs posted on landings would include a QR code and instructions. Smith said officials at software company Duxbury MooringInfo, which created the system his office uses, said it could be used for paid parking. Members of the parking committee agreed to invite company representatives to their June 10 meeting to discuss its implementation at the dock.