(July 18, 2014) A strong showing for its postponed fireworks, as well as an impromptu decision to re-re-sell some spaces, saw the city reap roughly $13,000 more than expected from a single day of parking at the inlet lot on July 5.
As it did last year, the city charged a $50 all-day flat rate for fireworks parking at the inlet lot, although this year’s festivities took place on Saturday, July 5 instead of the actual Fourth of July holiday due to rain delays.
Last year, however, a number of patrons left in the afternoon, prior to the fireworks, causing the lot to be partially empty by the time the festivities began. In order to maximize the space, City Council approved a rate change for this year that would have staff re-open the lot at 3 p.m. and re-sell any vacated spaces for $30.
The move was estimated to bring in roughly $9,000 more this year than the $60,000 collected last year.
As it turned out, attendants were able to fit 1,257 cars into the lot at the $50 rate, filling it just before noon, according to data from the Public Works Department. Curiously, over the next three hours, 498 of those patrons left, allowing those spaces to be re-sold beginning at 3 p.m. for $30.
Further, roughly an hour and a half before the fireworks began, Public Works attendants actually ran out of the $30 re-sale permits. Staff then made the ad-hoc decision to let patrons in the lot for $20 up until the fireworks began, with a further 227 spaces having been vacated since 3 p.m.
“They made the determination to just fill the lot with a little over 200 spaces for $20,” said City Communications Manager Jessica Waters. “Speaking with our staff, it seemed like people were overall happy and appreciative with the service.”
All told, the city’s preliminary returns were over $82,000, Waters said.
Even though the flat-rate policy took effect on a Saturday this year – a day of the week when the lot usually fills in the summer, even without fireworks – the city still made more than it would have at the normal inlet lot rate of $3 per hour.
The Saturday after the holiday last year – July 6, 2013 – saw $52,023 in revenue, according to Public Works records.
“We did have some people who did not want to pay the flat rate and turned away, but for most people, convenience will outweigh the cost, which is what we see every Fourth of July,” Waters said.
By having patrons pay a set fee on entry, the city avoids having backups at the exit toll booths after the fireworks end, when patrons would normally have to feed in their ticket and pay for the hours they were parked.
Traffic leading from the inlet lot north to the Route 50 Bridge was cleared between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on Saturday. Traffic on Philadelphia Avenue heading south toward the bridge, however, stayed backed up long after that.