When the city of Excelsior planned to replace hundreds of old parking meters and street signs last year, officials put the equipment up for sale to the public.
The coin-operated meters from the 1980s sell for $75 and the blue-and-white embossed street signs for $25. So far, more than 60 items have new owners.
The majority of the sales were street signs, said city finance officer Teah Malecha. People have bought them for Christmas presents or mailed them to a family member who used to live on the block.
"The signs are just such a popular item," she said.
The parking meters? Not so much. Fewer than 10 have sold, mainly to collectors. Some people on Facebook joked that neighbors should buy a meter and stick it in their yard.
Several city officials estimated the meters and signs had been around since the 1980s. The signs were replaced to meet new state standards or repair from damage, but new meters were needed for a bunch of reasons, said city manager Kristi Luger.
First, people just don't carry change anymore, she said. Second, the city couldn't find replacement parts. Lastly, the old meters really didn't work during the cold weather months.
At least 180 meters were replaced, many near the 13-acre park known as the Commons. It's a historic area dating to the origins of the city and is widely recognized as the city's chief asset. The city's population is 2,100.
The park includes open recreation areas, picnic sites, playgrounds, two swimming beaches, tennis courts, baseball fields, a band shell, bathhouse, public restrooms and docking for public excursion boats that provide lake access for those who do not own personal boats. It's a popular spot for summer concerts and has been the finish line for marathons.
"We get people from all over the country," said Luger.
Parking at the old meters used to be $1 for an hour but now will be raised to $3 or $5 an hour depending on where the meter is located, she said.
The meters generated an average of $60,000 a year before they were replaced in July. The new meters more than doubled the revenue by the end of 2016, said Malecha.
Residents and visitors will see far fewer new meters because they have been replaced by the parking kiosks used in larger cities. People can use credit cards and download a phone application to pay.
The city projected a conservative revenue stream for 2017, but Luger said the new meters may cut the time in half to pay off replacement expenses.
The previous amounts generated from the meters was just enough to cover basic maintenance of property in the Commons, said Luger. Many of the facilities were built in the 1960s and need to brought up to standard, she said.
That could take several million dollars, she said.
The City Council is excited at the prospect of being able to earmark the additional revenue to improve the Commons, but nothing has been determined, Luger said.
"We haven't see a full year's revenue yet," said Malecha. "It's up in the air at this point. But it would be nice to put the money back into the Commons."