LEWISTON — If you see the lights flashing at City Hall, it is not a distress signal or Morse code.

Lewiston will begin flashing the lights at City Hall to notify residents a parking ban is in effect. (Sun Journal file photo)

The city announced Tuesday it will try something new to get the word out on winter parking bans: blinking lights on the building’s tower.

The city will test a “new form of outreach” to let residents know there is a parking ban in effect. After sunset during a parking ban, the City Hall tower lights will blink two seconds on and four seconds off.

Lewiston City Hall has featured a series of colored lights on its tower since 2013. Deputy City Administrator Denis D’Auteuil said this will be the first time the lights will be used in this way.

But, he said, officials plan to roll it out only as a test to determine if it is an effective way to communicate parking bans.

City officials said the lights will be tested “to supplement Lewiston’s ongoing parking ban notification efforts.”

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Lewiston now sends out email notifications, text alerts, social media posts and news releases on scheduled parking bans.

“We still run into situations here and there where residents don’t receive the message,” D’Auteuil said, “so (the) staff wanted to try a new idea to evaluate the results to see if it had a positive impact.”

The city announced the new effort Tuesday at the same time it called for a parking ban from 12:01 a.m. until 11 p.m. Wednesday due to the expected snowstorm.

Dale Doughty, director of Lewiston Public Works, said Tuesday the “blinking light” idea was floated during a recent meeting, after it was mentioned that during the first few winter storms this season there were several vehicles towed. He said some people do not have internet access, and it led the city to discuss ways to spread the word about parking bans.

Doughty spent Tuesday programming the City Hall system, which uses wireless to remotely control the lights. He said he chose a frequency of two seconds on and four seconds off hoping that people would be more likely to notice the lights off.

“Hopefully this way, it’s at a frequency that’s not annoying and going on and off crazily, but something that will at least get people’s attention,” he said.

If all goes as planned, Doughty said, the “parking ban” lights will begin blinking at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. In the future, he said, the lights might start blinking prior to when a ban actually starts.

The lights in the tower are a variety of colors, including blue, red and yellow. D’Auteuil said the color scheme will stay the same when flashing.

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