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Medical Campus trying Smart Park

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is serving as a guinea pig for the city's Smart Park system, which will market in-car meters to motorists.

The city's continuing parking enforcement blitz might be the most potent selling tool for the yellow gadgets, which look like thin transistor radios. A driver pulls up to a meter, sticks a prepaid cash card into the device, then pushes a button. A liquid crystal display screen, or LCD, counts down the time, giving parking enforcers information they would normally get from a curbside meter.

An advantage of the device is that people spend money only for the time they use, rather than having to feed a meter with quarters that might not be needed, Mayor Byron W. Brown said.

"This is the type of innovative approach to parking in the city that will make Buffalo more accessible," he said while explaining the initiative Wednesday outside the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute on Ellicott Street.

The devices cost $65, and motorists can buy cash cards with values of $25, $50 or $100.

While the city bought some of the devices in 2002, most of the 128 in-car meters currently in use are owned by people who have physical disabilities. The goal is to market the remaining 370 devices to the public, hopefully sparking enough interest to get even more drivers to participate, said Parking Enforcement Director Leonard G. Sciolino.

The city is giving 10 meters to the Medical Campus for a pilot project. Executive Director Matthew K. Enstice praised Brown for taking swift steps to address parking concerns.

The Smart Park system will soon be showcased on the city's Web site at www.city-buffalo.com. People can also obtain information by calling 851-4616.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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