Darien’s online parking permit renewal a ‘fantastic step forward’
DARIEN — The town’s efforts to bring train parking into the digital age seem to be working.
According to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, new online parking permit renewal is going smoothly up to this point.
“It’s a fantastic step forward in terms of efficiencies,” Stevenson said at a Monday, Dec. 5 meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
Launched on Nov. 10, the new online system, approved in May, allows residents to renew their permits online if all license plates on the permit have remained the same from the previous year.
According to Parking Authority Clerk Anne Diceglie, through whom all permits are processed, of the 1,388 commuter permits the town will issue, 811 have been processed as of Wednesday, Dec. 7. Of those 811, roughly 350 permit renewals were filed for online.
The number might appear low, Diceglie said, because many permit-holders had a change in license plates on their account from the previous year and were forced to renew in person.
Town Administrator Kate Buch did acknowledge that some residents are “balking” at the convenience fee, which was instituted in exchange for a need to physically come to Town Hall to renew, and are choosing to renew in person to avoid paying. Buch also noted her surprise in the number of people that seem not to have read a letter, sent in early November, by Town officials letting current permit holders know that they had an online option, and are not aware of the online option.
But, according to Buch, those who are aware of online renewal have been pleased.
“We have heard a lot of positive feedback about the online renewal option,” Buch said via email on Tuesday.
Still need to renew your parking permit?
The last day to renew without a late fee is Dec. 12. After Dec. 12, a $25 late fee will go into effect.
After Jan. 5, the fee will jump to $50.
Renewals will not be issued after Jan. 26, according to Town Administrator Kate Buch. According to Buch, it hasn’t been decided yet whether online renewal will be permitted past Dec. 12.
Visit darienpermits.nsolutions.com/ or stop by Town Hall to renew.
The selectmen, too, were optimistic regarding the technology and its future.
“I hope a lot of people are excited about that. That’s a big change, that’s a big commitment,” Selectman Susan Marks said, of the new software. Numbers indicating how many people renewed online versus in person are not yet available, Buch said, but Town Officials will look at the break down once renewals are completed.
The online renewal option comes on the heels several other parking fees this season, which Buch said has not generated much in the way of complaints. The Selectmen voted in October to increase commuter parking fees that saw the daily parking rate rise from $3 to $4 and the yearly rate rise from $350 to $400 in an attempt, in part, to make parking rates in Darien more comparable with surrounding towns and thus cut into the town’s inflated commuter wait list.
A $65 monthly fee option for non-commuter lots and parking in permit spots after 9:30 a.m. are also among the changes that commuters can expect to see in Darien after Jan. 1, 2017.
Representative Town Meeting member and Founder of the Commuter Action Group Jim Cameron added on Tuesday to the Darien News that Connecticut commuters are also facing a 6 percent fare increase on the Metro North.
“The total all-in cost of being a commuter is getting more expensive,” Cameron said, though in October he spoke in favor of raising costs in Darien, which he said are still among the lowest in Lower Fairfield County.
“The Board of Selectmen wanted to raise rates but still keep them affordable and indicate that the spots were more valuable than they were priced at,” Cameron explained.