NORWALK, Conn. – If you thought the newly installed license plate readers at Calf Pasture Beach weren’t working right last summer, you were right. But Norwalk Recreation and Parks Director Mike Mocciae says its all better now.
The $52,000 system had some bugs in it, which got worked out in August, he said. Nevertheless, the switch to high technology has already saved the city $35,000, he said. And it was never intended to work like an EZ Pass. No speeding through the gate. You still have to come to a stop.
“At the end of the season it was working very well,” he said. “At Vets and Calf, we still have an issue regarding when the sun is beating directly on the gate. For an hour and half period it seems to lose the license plates a little because of the camera. But other than that, people have to put their pass on the window anyway because if they’re parking in resident parking they have to show the pass to show that they’re legal to park in the resident spot.”
The system didn’t really get going until July, he said. Technicians were coming down from Massachusetts “every other day” to work on the system. Things smoothed out when it got to the point that the city’s Information Technology department could take over.
The cost savings result from people getting their beach passes online — 80 percent of the passes were issued that way, Mocciae said, meaning the city didn’t need to hire as much extra help for the office.
The readers tattle-tale on people who are trying to use a borrowed pass.
“It allows us better control on resident passes because peopleused to pass stickers back and forth,” he said. “That was a lot of fraud.” People used to move from Norwalk and never take their stickers off. “Now they can’t do that because the machine will catch that.”
That will mean more revenue for Norwalk, he said.
The city collected data during the peak weeks of August, when 12,000 to 14,000 cars a week came through.
“That’s going to give us this year hopefully all the back-up information we need for grants,” he said. “How many people come in, residents vs. non-residents, how many cars during peak periods. Maybe we can look more efficiently at police coverage.
“It is going to be a tool for us but it was never meant to fly people through like an EZ Pass.”
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