Firm gets second shot behind the wheel at Hoboken garage

Firm gets second shot behind the wheel at Hoboken garage

December 09, 2006 JJ
The Hoboken City Council is putting its faith in an Israeli company to run the robotic Garden Street garage, which has been plagued by problems since it was built three years ago.

The council voted Wednesday to award Unitronics a $2 million contract to replace and fix mechanical and electrical problems and replace software that controls the 314-space garage at 916 Garden St.

City Parking Utility Director John Corea said that five companies had picked up the bid proposals but only Unitronics - whose U.S. office is in Massachusetts - was really prepared to take on the project.

Officials have drawn up specifications detailing the work needed to be done, including writing new software to control the robotic platforms and putting in new mechanical parts.

After the work is completed the garage is expected to operate as it was originally designed, without a full-time attendant.

Corea said the maintenance contract for the first year will be $10,000 a month. After a year the Parking Utility will take over maintenance, Corea said.

Florida-based Robotic Parking Systems, Inc. - the company that designed the software and machinery that slides cars in and out of the garage - had a falling-out with the city after asking that its monthly contract increase from $2,600 to $9,000.

The parking utility plans to close the garage from Dec. 15 to 20 to install temporary software. Once this has been done, the city hopes to sever ties with Robotic.

The work would then be done in phases to keep the garage open, with the entire project to be done by the end of March.

Unitronics had been hired to replace Robotic, but its stay was short-lived; Robotic successfully sued to stop its competitors from using its copyrighted software. In August, the city agreed to pay Robotic $5,500 a month for three years to license the software.

Hoboken Parking Utility technicians have been operating the garage since then. Corea said Unitronics has agreed to wait for payment until all the upgrades are finished.

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