LEWISTON — The city’s parking garages should be upgrading to better payment machines this fall.

Lewiston police Lt. Mark Cornelio said the city plans to replace machines made by Massachusetts-based Wescor Parking Controls Inc. with those made by Cincinnati Time Recorder. That company has offices in Portland and supplies parking gate controls to the Portland Jetport.

“These are just better machines,” Cornelio said. “These particular pay stations come with built-in alarms, and that’s something the other ones didn’t have. It also gives us the option of installing cameras in the machines, and that will help cut down on vandalism and with people trying to leave without paying.”

All of the pay boxes in the city’s parking garages were disabled by thieves in April.

Thieves began breaking into the parking garage pay boxes on April 6 and had hit all four garages by April 9. The automated systems collect parking fees, giving change in $1 coins. Thieves pried open the machines’ pay boxes, stealing the dollar coins and the paper money people had deposited.

A total of eight pay stations in the city’s four garages —  Oak Street, Centerville, Chestnut Street and Southern Gateway — were burglarized and left with their pay stations disabled. Police estimated the thieves made off with $500, but estimated the city lost about $8,000 per month in unpaid parking fees.

The city’s insurance paid for most of the repairs, but city officials began looking for better solutions. In the meantime, they’ve taken parts from some machines to repair others. Every exit from a city parking garage is currently covered by a working gate machine.

“But repairs are another reason we’re changing machines,” Cornelio said. Massachusetts-based Wescor charged the city a flat $500 fee every time they were required to come Lewiston, on top of their $100 hourly repair rate.

“The new company is just coming up from Portland, so they don’t charge that much for maintenance or repairs,” Cornelio said.

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A driver pays to exit the Southern Gateway Parking Garage in Lewiston on Wednesday. Many of the automated arms blocking the entrances and exits were damaged, allowing people to park in the garages for free. The city has contracted with a new company to fix any issues they are having.


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