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Ferndale Extends Free Parking, Orders More Pay Stations

City Council approved an extension of free parking through March 11.

Parking will be free in downtown Ferndale for two more weeks while the city works to improve the new parking system.

Ferndale City Council on Monday night approved the extension of free parking through March 11 and approved the purchase of 12 additional parking pay stations.

City management recommended the extra pay stations after using data from the new system to study a seven-day period of usage. During that time, the pay stations had 15,000 transactions - 50 percent coming from the Troy and Withington parking lots.

"That right there lets you know that clearly we have an issue with the amount of pay stations that we have in those two lots in particular," said Ferndale City Manager April Lynch, pointing out that a quarter of the machines have 50 percent of the traffic demand.

The city also found that 60 percent of transactions occurred Thursday through Saturday between 5-10 p.m.

Lynch said the industry standard for pay stations is 15-20 transactions per hour, but Ferndale was seeing 60-80 transactions per hour. The 12 new machines are in addition to two more the city was already planning to order.

"We feel that [adding the pay stations] will help greatly," Lynch said.

Some machines will be placed alongside existing pay stations for convenience and safety, "so people don't feel like they're standing there by themselves," she said.

In addition to adding more pay stations, city staff will use the extended "free parking holiday" to address other parking issues such as lack of lighting around some of the stations, reducing the approval time for credit card transactions and removing unnecessary prompts.

Several business owners and local residents spoke during the council meeting, expressing concerns over increased parking rates and the cost of parking passes, losing business because of the new system and more.

An Oak Park resident was one of several speakers to draw a round of applause from meeting attendees when she urged council to lower parking rates. She said many have said the new rates are comparable to Royal Oak and Birmingham - "I don't want Ferndale to be like that," she said.

"The reason my family and I chose Oak Park is it's closer to Ferndale," she said. "Ferndale is not Royal Oak and Birmingham ... that's why we're happy to be there. Ferndale is different and it's wonderfully different."

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter said council plans to review rates and enforcement hours.

Mayor Pro Tem Melanie Piana thanked city management and staff for their quick work responding to parking issues. "This has been number one priority," she said.

Read more on Patch about the new parking system.

Motown Voice February 26, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Just a matter of time before the 12 people who hate these new meters describe in pathetic, torturous detail how the machines have ruined them financially, socially and emotionally. (looks at watch) Aaaaaaany second now.
Frank Castronova February 26, 2013 at 02:33 PM
I'm disappointed the DDA wasn't called to task yesterday by anyone on council. Weren't they heavily involved in this decision? A few people who addressed council mentioned the DDA's lack of interest in directly talking to business owners and patrons about this problematic system. And Motown Voice, it's much more than 12 people. I live a block off of downtown Ferndale and talk to business owners and patrons almost daily. Dozens of people hate this new system.
Chris Johnston February 26, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Actually, Motown Voice, I was at the meeting last night and was impressed with not only The Mayor, Council and April as they spoke on the situation, but also the residents and business owners who have been affected by the situation. Maybe to you it sounds like we're whining in Ferndale, but this community has more than its fair share of people with either the ideas, desire, or both to make things better. Parking is not the most important of issues we as a community have taken on. And it won't be the last either. I think that's what separates Ferndale from other communities. If someone's business is suffering financially, socially or emotionally there are many who want to hear about it and want to do something about it. As much as I enjoy sarcasm it wouldn't be those that complain that I would use the term "pathetic" on.
Chris Johnston February 26, 2013 at 02:56 PM
I meant to say "If someone's business is suffering, or if someone is suffering socially or emotionally, there are many who want to hear about it and..."
Rose Szwed February 26, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Here are the rest of the facts from last night. It was mentioned that Ferndale Police were laid off, but the city is purchasing more parking meters. The pay stations are "green" but lighting is needed so folks can read the directions at night. Sick w/the flu, I was the 1st speaker & asked if businesses can pay the $100 residential parking rate insead of the$400+ for passes per employee. Rep for the Historical Museum spoke for businesses too afraid to speak for themselves for fear of "being ambushed." George from Assagi nailed it: There is lack of communication between the DDA & Council. He had parking lots when he opened his business back in the day. We need to talk to him about parking. Costs are out of control. How many of us talked about losing customers, business and taking a hit paying for our visitor's parking? FERNDALE CAN YOU HEAR US? We are not faceless. We are Ferndale.
Rose Szwed February 26, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Here are the rest of the facts from last night. It was mentioned that Ferndale Police were laid off, but the city is purchasing more parking meters. The pay stations are "green" but lighting is needed so folks can read the directions at night. Sick w/the flu, I was the 1st speaker & asked if businesses can pay the $100 residential parking rate insead of the$400+ for passes per employee. Rep for the Historical Museum spoke for businesses too afraid to speak for themselves for fear of "being ambushed." George from Assagi nailed it: There is lack of communication between the DDA & Council. He had parking lots when he opened his business back in the day. We need to talk to him about parking. Costs are out of control. How many of us talked about losing customers, business and taking a hit paying for our visitor's parking? FERNDALE CAN YOU HEAR US? We are not faceless. We are Ferndale.
Rose Szwed February 26, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Great comment. One solution is for businesses to pay the $100 residents fee per vehicle, per year. Another is to really do a great PR number by having Free Parking weeks for visitors and promote it. We can also put the money for parking meters back into the police force and pull those who are laid off back on the job.
Chris Johnston February 26, 2013 at 03:10 PM
You made great points last night, Rose. I appreciate you coming out, despite being sick. It's not easy taking a sick day when you are in business for yourself, especially when your voice needs to be heard. One of the most important parts in finding solutions is making sure the facts are known. It's important to know that the Auto Park fund was set up as an account for money that comes from parking, whether from a pay station or old school meter. That money is kept separate from the general fund and can only go to parking related expenditures. It can't be used to rehire laid off police officers. While there may be many who wish it could, it can't so it's not fair for anyone to insinuate that council has chosen one over the other.
Rose Szwed February 26, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Chris, I didn't know. Thanks for informing me. I appreciate the clarification. You know, I don't mean to offend. My issue is w/the cost of the p.passes for us businesses. Would rather focus on solutions than complaints. Thanks.
Chris Johnston February 26, 2013 at 03:29 PM
I never got the impression that you meant to offend. As far as complaints go, if people didn't voice there complaints how would we know there was a problem that needed solving? And the problem isn't solved yet, but thanks to those that spoke up conversations are being had to address things. Because those conversations are starting it's now even more important for those with problems, as well as solutions, to be heard. Sorry Motown Voice, you should probably switch over to the Troy Patch for a while where there are no problems. We'll let you know when the coast is clear.
Mr. Michael February 26, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Multiply our average daily collection for all spaces by two weeks to see how much revenue we're actually losing these next couple of weeks. Is anyone being held accountable for costing the city so much money? The City Manager says average transactions per hour is 15-20 but 60-80 is the reality in Ferndale. You mean after all the exhausting studies, parking experts and pricey consultants they didn't have this information in advance? Transactions per hour is a pretty basic statistic especially when your estimating the amount of pay stations required. Perhaps a partial refund is in order because this information was so misleading. This whole system should've been beta tested in one or two small lots before being rolled out. They got rid of the meters too soon...and that's just good hindsight...mine's 20/20.
NikkiRC February 26, 2013 at 03:53 PM
While I agree that parking in Royal Oak is a nightmare, I think Ferndale should look into the way Birmingham handles their parking situation. Birmingham offers the first 2 hours of parking in their structures FREE. That's incentive for me to choose Birmingham stores/restaurants over other cities.
Rose Szwed February 26, 2013 at 04:00 PM
While we agree that Ferndale has parking issues, let's remember what bring people here -- unique stores, awesome restaurants, great markets, service businesses. We need to focus on solutions, attend city council meetings (not always convenient for me) and make our voice heard at the meetings. We need to support each other. We are in a drastic learning curve, but let's work together and find solutions together.
G-Money February 26, 2013 at 06:52 PM
I think Royal Oak does have something similar to that, before 5 pm at the Lafayette parking structure. But both Royal Oak and Birmingham have something Ferndale doesn't: parking areas in which you need a time-stamped ticket to exit.
G-Money February 26, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Wow! I just saw how much all of this costs. It was already over $250,000 for the original 19. Then there were orders for 3 more on the addended invoice, which looked to have an additional $60,000. And now an additional 12 machines will probably put it at close to half a million. Then there is the monthly operating cost of $85 for every unit, which is an additional $35,000 a year for 34 units. Then there is still the extended yearly maintenance contract which is still TBD. No wonder they needed to raise rates. I hope this doesn't turn into a big boondoggle. This is from an attachment in the agenda for the last council meeting. You can find it on the city's website or here is the link: http://ferndale-mi.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=372
Alan G. Soave February 26, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Who pays for lots maintenance, paving ,snow removal and such?
Alan G. Soave February 26, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Perhaps Patch should of posted the cost of this temporary free parking system.
Kris February 27, 2013 at 02:48 AM
I don't like that the city choose pay stations that don't have screens that illuminate after dark... how cheap and unsafe. And no security lights either? Seems like safety is an afterthought. Can't wait until I get mugged.
Rose Szwed February 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Measure twice, cut once. Since there was clearly no plan to install the parking stations, a plan is needed now. Not just buying a bunch of lights, but starting from the beginning of everything to do, unplanned contingencies, possible casualities, amount of money spent so far, future expenditures, payback to the city, etc. Rather than installing one light to see how it works, the City will probably install them all at once and something won't work. Apparently the City has deep pockets for this project. Plan. Plan. Plan. Focus groups help a lot. Too bad this wasn't included in the plan as it would have saved a lot of grief and aggravation.
Lana Quirouette February 27, 2013 at 02:37 PM
What stops the Parking Enforcement Officer from giving you a ticket from the time you park your car to the time you finally get to pay at the pay station after standing in line for 20 min?
Karen Tardiff March 01, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Brilliant, why don't you round up some of your beer buddies and let us know just how much you love the rates and convenience of the new paystations. Cause obviously you're not interested in the other side of this.
Easydude March 03, 2013 at 06:57 PM
The City of Detroit has a better system every 8th meter has a pay station. Also, the Royal Oak converted their meters to meet the needs of modernization. Thus, I really would like to know why a story was pulled by the patch concerning pepper spray and a brick.
Easydude March 03, 2013 at 06:58 PM
There have been muggings and robbers at the Troy station last summer.
Motown Voice March 04, 2013 at 02:44 PM
I don't pay for parking. I drive a hybrid. And in as much as a dozen or so couch potatoes whining about the new meter system is concerned, there is no "either side." There's are new meters ... and then there are those complaining about it. That's a one-sided, sort of, whiny sound.
Motown Voice March 04, 2013 at 02:51 PM
You are Rose. And I'm sure you're very nice. But you're not "Ferndale." You're one voter ... with one vote.
Motown Voice March 04, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Uch. You can't be serious. Did you demand your own personal lighting system when you were sticking quarters into a meter? This is the kind of over the top garbage that makes the case of the people doing the complaining about this issue seem petty and irrelevant.
Rose Szwed March 04, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Well Motown Voice. People who pay taxes in Ferndale "are Ferndale." When I no longer pay taxes here, I will no longer respond to this stupid situation that clearly has no concrete plan of action. In the meantime, there are a lot of empty buildings here. Bet the City would really love some additional tax revenue from business that "could be Ferndale." Their loss.
Alan G. Soave March 04, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Motown Voice why don't you pay your fare share and put your money where your support is.
Frank Castronova March 04, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Motown Voice, why don't you identify yourself?

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