'Smart garage' a benefit to airport, says Skeffington

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Had they attended Thursday’s reopening ceremony of Red Beam Garage C, Rhode Island Airport Corporation officials might have been surprised to hear James Skeffington Jr., the son of the late James Skeffington, who had the vision for the garage over 20 years ago, say it will help benefit RIAC.

While in close proximity of the airport terminal, Red Beam is independently owned and competes with RIAC-operated garages and lots. Red Beam, like other vendors serving airport customers, does pay a fee to RIAC, although that amount could not be verified by press time Monday. RIAC had operated the garage for 10 years, but that ended in November when its lease expired and the agency and Skeffington didn’t reach an agreement to renew it or sell the garage, according to reports.

Skeffington put a bright spin on the future and how it could impact the airport.

“What’s significant about Propark arriving is they are complementing that effort,” Skeffington said Thursday. “Propark makes the business of parking easy, convenient, affordable and they have a tremendous level of customer service. So I think over the next several years and for the foreseeable future we’re going to see Propark help the airport attract and maintain passengers as it continues to grow.”

Skeffington’s company, New England Parking Company, has teamed up with Propark America, operator of more than 500 parking garages across the country, to operate Red Beam.

John Schmid, Propark America’s chief executive officer, said the garage has more than 20 charging stations for electric vehicles that are free to use.

“Charge cars, not people, is what we say,” he said.

He talked of other enhancements.

“It’s a smart garage now, wired to the cloud with state-of-the-art parking technology. It allows you to search for parking, buy parking and reserve parking and then exit the parking garage using your mobile device and a barcode – no more waiting in line at the end of a long trip,” he said. Coming to the Red Beam, customers will have the ability to have oil changes and their cars washed while away.

Of all the garages operated by Propark of America, Schmid said Red Beam is the closest to an airport terminal and the only one on an airport campus. According to a release, at $9.95 per day, the Red Beam Garage C is currently the most convenient and affordable parking option for T.F. Green Airport travelers.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, who also spoke at the reopening ceremony, recalled discussion in 1999 shortly after the new terminal opened and Southwest brought its discount fares to Rhode Island to make Green the fastest growing airport in the country.

“There was a lot of talk about what we’re going to do for parking and how is this going to work at the airport,” he said.

“Having a parking garage that is on the tax rolls and actually generates money was always part of what his equation was for making a public-private partnership at the airport work. Although he’s [Skeffington Sr.] not with us today, I can tell you he’s definitely smiling down on us. The vision that your dad had, and you continue to have, really allows T.F. Green to have the amenities that we are looking for.”

New England Parking and Propark chose the reopening to announce their support of the Providence and Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs with a $15,000 pledge to be paid over three years. The money will be used to support club programming.

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