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New meters to run on sun

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Two Little Rock city officials attended a parking meter conference in Pittsburgh — surely one of the least sexy junkets in the U.S. — last week to inspect first-hand solar-powered meters being considered for the River Market district.

President Clinton Avenue — which has a two-hour parking limit — "has basically become a parking lot," Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau COO Jim Rice said. Traffic enforcement officers must now chalk tires to keep track of time parked. Area businesses want better enforcement.

Rice said the meters, which take cash or credit cards, are the "newest and the greatest on the market in other cities." Only one of the solar-powered meters is required per block, an aesthetic advantage, and they don't require power. They issue a receipt, which the parker puts on his car dashboard to indicate when his time expires.

The meters cost between $6,000 and $8,000 apiece, more than conventional electronic meters, but fewer are required. Rice said the city will need only eight to 10, rather than 30 of the per-space meters; they'll put out requests for bids.

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