Parking meters are here to stay in downtown, Missoula, however, they will soon feature 21st century technology.

The Missoula Parking Commission will host a series of meetings on its parking meter modernization project on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 15 and 16, in downtown, Missoula. Parking Commissioner Anne Guest said officials want as much public participation as possible.

"We have specific slots for stakeholders, for downtown employees, and for downtown business owners and managers," Guest said. "Then, we'll have a open house for the public on Wednesday the 16th from 6 to 7:15 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, downtown. We hope to get a lot of the public interested in this project, and to get their input on it."

Guest outlines some of the features of the new state-of-the-art parking meters.

"There are a lot of customer-friendly conveniences," Guest said. "They will feature multiple-payment options. for example, we will always have the option to pay by coin, but then you can also pay by credit card, by debit card, pay by phone, or various mobile apps. I think the industry has reached a level now where it's digital, it will work with cellular information, and they will be solar-powered. They will be stand-alone, efficient machines, and I feel confident that all the bugs have been worked out. I believe we can have them installed by the end of the year, and have a whole new system for downtown, Missoula."

Guest said once the decision is made on which system to use, the process of letting out bids will begin until a vendor has been selected.

"We will look at the most cost-effective ways to do it," Guest said. "We could perhaps lease-to-own, and we could do the core of downtown first and then the outlying areas, but right now, I don't know how that's going to look and feel."

Missoula Parking Commissioner Anne Guest