Drivers looking for parking in the Vail Avenue garage in downtown Arlington Heights may soon find it easier to get an open spot.
Beginning this fall, workers will install a camera-based parking guidance system that will show drivers -- by use of green and red LEDs above parking spots -- which spaces are open.
The village board Tuesday night approved a $491,000 contract with Indianapolis-based ECO Technologies for the digital system, associated signage and new lighting throughout the garage.
"This is an expensive system -- and I'm glad we didn't pick the most expensive system -- but I feel one of the biggest complaints I hear from residents is they don't know where to park and what spaces are available," said Trustee Bert Rosenberg. "Hopefully this will give people the ability to recognize what is available and what isn't."
The board's 6-2 approval came after their earlier review of a downtown parking upgrade plan in January, in which they endorsed the guidance system as one option to ease congestion in the area.
Trustees were first presented with a 134-page report by a parking consultant last October that yielded 31 recommendations, including the guidance system that uses green and red lights.
Two new trustees elected to the board in April, Tom Schwingbeck and Mary Beth Canty, were the two "no" votes Tuesday night, arguing the cost wasn't justified for a five-story, 1,150-space garage, in which only three floors are regularly open for general public use.
"I like the system if it were a 20,000-space parking garage in the Loop," Schwingbeck said. "But in a garage like this, I think we could use the money elsewhere."
Initial plans called for lights above all spaces in the garage, but that was pared down to having one light for every six spaces. On the roof of the garage, cameras will monitor cars coming in and out, and transmit that information to a nearby sign that will show the number of spaces available.
There will also be four digital signs at the entrances to the garage displaying how many spaces and what type of parking is available on each level. For instance, the first floor is always free, and floors two and three are reserved for permit holders such as downtown residents. But after noon, floors four and five become free, and the digital sign will change accordingly.
The guidance system, which is wireless and cloud-based, can provide real-time data on how each space is utilized all day throughout the year, officials said.
Along with the parking system lights, ECO Technologies will install new lighting down center drive aisles of the garage. Compared to the current configuration, half as many fixtures will be required. Village officials planned to replace garage lights in 2021 or 2022, but the company included new lighting in its bid price.
The system could be in place by January.
Also Tuesday, the board inked a $165,298 contract with Schaumburg-based QT Signs for two 20-foot blade signs that will be affixed to the Vail and North garages in the downtown, and four pole-mounted parking signs to be installed at downtown surface lots.