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.