DEM: Laz Parking will operate + modernize parking facilities at RI’s eight state surf beaches starting in May

Beach More, Wait Less: Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett is one location where there will be an express entrance lane for customers who have purchased online passes in advance.

Source: RI DEM

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today that it has chosen LAZ Parking to run the parking operations at Rhode Island’s eight state surf beaches starting in May.

Building on progress made in 2019 when it offered online sales of beach passes for the first time, DEM required that proposals for the parking business include significant upfront investment to continue the modernization of beach parking operations. In submitting the winning bid, Hartford, CT-based LAZ will invest in state-of-the-art equipment and technology. Improvements include allowing customers to buy both day and season online passes in advance, express lanes using license plate recognition technology for prepaid customers at some locations, capability to provide real-time parking lot capacity data that DEM can use to communicate alerts when lots are at or near capacity, and capability to capture visitation and revenue numbers in real time to ensure that the right fees are being charged and collected for every transaction.

“The goal of this new contract is enhanced services to the more than one million Rhode Islanders and out-of-staters who enjoy our world-class beaches each year,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “What LAZ Parking promises to deliver starting in the 2020 beach season, however, is a great leap ahead in terms of improving traffic flow, improving the customer experience, and maximizing beach parking revenue. We will be monitoring the delivery and results closely, and we look forward to working collaboratively with LAZ Parking to deliver for Rhode Island.”

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Coit said DEM’s selection of LAZ Parking is in keeping with the vision of Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s Parks Initiative, now in its second year, of celebrating the state park system by investing in it. The Governor’s fiscal year 2021 budget continues to invest by increasing needed funds for the day-to-day parks operations and by proposing a $64 million Beach, Clean Water, and Green Bond initiative. The bond would fund clean water, drinking water, and climate resilience projects along with a once-in-a-generation, $35 million investment to continue the much-needed modernization of RI’s system of parks, beaches, campgrounds, bike paths, and other assets.

“Rhode Island is the No. 1 state in the country in visitors per acre of state parks and beaches,” said Coit, noting that state beaches are one of RI’s biggest tourist attractions, generating more than $115 million in spending every year (see page 8 of this study). “However, we still rank 46th in state spending per visit, according to the National Association of State Park Directors. While we work to improve the long-term sustainability of our State Parks, choosing LAZ Parking as our vendor is about improving the experience of visitors today.”

DEM received proposals from eight vendors. Half of the proposals were eliminated for failing to meet qualifications. A six-member panel made up of DEM parks staff and administrators reviewed the technical aspects of the four remaining bids based on vendor qualifications, capability and capacity, the proposed work plan and approach, and cost. LAZ achieved the highest overall score of the bids submitted. Positive recommendations from existing LAZ customers helped reinforce the company’s winning proposal to DEM.

Under the terms of the three-year contract, LAZ Parking will invest over $580,000 in capital at the start of the contract and receive an annual flat rate management fee of $872,536 in 2020, $989,531 in 2021, and $925,826 in 2022. LAZ also will receive a $0.35 per vehicle transaction fee for all paid vehicles that enter beach facilities during normal business hours from 8:30 AM to 4 PM.

The price of admission to state beaches will remain the same in 2020. Residents will pay $30 for a season pass, $6 for a daily pass on Monday through Friday, and $7 for a daily pass on weekends and holidays. Non-residents will continue to pay $60 for a season pass and daily fees of $12 (Monday-Friday) and $14 (weekends and holidays). Seniors pay reduced fees. As always, entrance to state beaches on foot or by bicycle is free. Fees are only charged to park a vehicle.

LAZ has over 3,155 locations nationwide including more than 1.2 million parking spaces, 13,100 employees, and 14 regional offices. The company serves more than 100 clients in the region, including TF Green Airport, Providence Place mall, and the City of Newport’s parking meter system. Other regional contracts include Nahant Beach, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston College, and Simon Properties. It also manages many high-volume beach locations including Daytona Beach and Miami Beach in Florida, Long Beach, CA, and California State Parks and Beaches. For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.