Everyone is responsible for the introduction of Smart Meters into Brookline. Every Board and Committee in town supported it. The Transportation Department, with buy-in from the community, did their best to recommend the model and company it felt would put Brookline in a position to succeed. Bottom line – we’re all to blame that it has hurt local business and made parking even more of a burden for residents.
Brookline Government is doing something that most governments, small and large, rarely seem to get right. Instead of defending a mistake with endless political rhetoric, it’s taking steps to make the situation right. This June, almost immediately after the last Smart Meter was installed and in the middle of the uproar that ensued, our Town Administer, Mel Kleckner, put together a Smart Meter Task Force to address and fix the issues.
The first meeting differed from most government meeting in that every single person was in agreement – we all hated the new meters. In subsequent meetings, the committee identified issues and offered solutions. Transportation and DPW quickly worked with Digital, the Vancouver-based meter manufacturer, to make initial changes. The results are meters that are faster and more intuitive. No longer do we have to wait to “wake up” the meters before initiating a transaction or endure a parking time selection process akin to trying to figure out the assembly instructions for a bicycle on Christmas Eve. The language readouts on the meters has even been changed to actually be friendly to those who have given it money.
Nobody on the Task Force is patting themselves on the back just yet, however. The town is politely riding the manufacturer to make changes to the software interface, including eliminating the annoying “waiting for payment” instructions. The Task Force will be working to make user instructions more accessible, reviewing maps to reconsider meter placement, investigating options to make the experience easier for our senior citizens, and even exit polling meter users to gain greater insight into how the experience can be improved. Carla Benka of the Advisory Committee and Selectmen Dick Benka, showed up to our last meeting to suggest that the first 15 minutes of parking session be free. Now that’s a change we can live with. The best part of what the Task Force is doing is keeping the public informed of its activities and keeping the lines of communication open.
We think that with all the work done by Mel Kleckner, Transportation Director Todd Kirrane, and the Smart Meter Task Force, it’s only fair to give us all a mulligan. My thanks to fellow smart meter task force members
Town of Brookline:
- Melvin Kleckner, Town Administrator
- Andrew Pappastergion, DPW Commissioner
- Daniel O’Leary, Chief of Police
- Kevin Stokes, Director of Information Technology
- Jeff Levine, Planning and Community Development Director
- Lea Cohen, Chamber of Commerce
- Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith
- David Leschinsky, Eureka Puzzles
- Hsiu Lan-Chang, FastFrame, Washington Square
- Brian Kane
- Stanley Spiegel
- Shari Gershenfeld
- Fred Levitan
- Cathy Kaplan
R. Harvey Bravman, Publisher