Ferndale Parking Problems Addressed at Council Meeting

City officials say solutions are in the works and urge residents to keep the feedback coming.

The city is aware of the problems residents and visitors are having with Ferndale's new pay stations and are working on getting them resolved, city officials said Monday night.

Ferndale City Manager April Lynch and Downtown Development Authority executive director Cristina Sheppard-Decius addressed the parking situation during Monday's City Council meeting and answered questions from council members.

Ferndale rolled out new pay stations and parking rates late last month, and since then some residents have expressed frustrations about using the new system.

Sheppard-Decius said the concerns being expressed most include the lack of ParkMobile accessibility, not enough lighting around pay stations and long lines waiting to use the machines.


"ParkMobile is coming back," Sheppard-Decius said. City workers found that the stickers needed to identify space numbers for ParkMobile would not stick because of the cold weather and had to come up with a different method.

The Ferndale Department of Public Works is working this week, starting Tuesday, to get the parking numbers installed, she said. After that, ParkMobile will be fully compatible with the new system in all lots.


As for lighting, some pay stations were found to have "inadequate" lighting leaving residents unable to view the keypad at night. Sheppard-Decius said DPW is working to fix this issue and it should be addressed by the end of this week.

Long lines

A solution is also in the works for the long lines at the pay stations. Data from the new system has offered insight into which lots are being used most, and city officials have decided to divert two pay stations from less-used lots and place them in more popular lots, Sheppard-Decius said.

"That will help to resolve some of the lines that we are definitely seeing there," she said, also emphasizing that lines will move faster as people become more familiar with the system.

Other issues

  • One pay station would only accept dimes. This is now fixed.
  • A problem can occur when users accidentally put their credit card in the bill acceptor slot. This causes the pay station to "eat" your credit card and jams the machine.
  • The two 'free 15-minute' parking spots in front of the library, used for patrons who need to drop off books, were removed during the pay station installation but will be coming back.
  • Be patient - wait until the pay station directs you to "insert cash or credit" before trying to pay, Sheppard-Decius said.
  • Tickets: The city is giving out courtesy tickets instead of actual parking tickets until people become more familiar with the pay stations.

Ferndale resident Chris Johnston, co-owner of the WAB, Emory and the Loving Touch, spoke at the meeting and questioned why the new system was implemented in the winter and whether it was fair to double the rate in prime parking lots.

"I don't think Ferndale should be on the high end of things," he said of the $1/hour rate. "This isn't Birmingham."

Johnston also expressed concern with the pay stations not giving out change and being unable to use the leftover time when someone leaves a parking spot.

"I think these two things are kind of anti-Ferndale, but I think we're stuck with them," he said.

More feedback wanted

Sheppard-Decius and Lynch both emphasized that the city is listening to and taking into account all feedback received from residents.

"We are receiving and hearing all the comments and we want to hear more," Sheppard-Decius said, adding that they are aiming for a 'seamless system.'

"We apologize for the inconvenience people have had. We are working hard," she said.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to submit comments by calling the DDA at 248-546-1632 or submitting a comment at ferndaleparkplus.com.

Consumers are asked to be as specific as possible and include the parking lot and location of the pay station in their comments. Those using a smart phone can directly access the comments site via the QR code posted on each space sign.

Chris Johnston February 12, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Since the meeting, I am less concerned about the system and more about the pricing. It was pointed out that the old system didn't give change either. I get that. But with a meter, the biggest denomination you could put in was a quarter. So, the most you could lose was 24 cents in change. With the new system, putting in a dollar bill, that increases to 99 cents. And if they take larger bills, that amount goes up. With the old system if you got to Ferndale and had a quarter, there was a pretty good chance you could get something done. Now you’ll have half the time. I was told last night that if you needed change before you'd have to go into a business, get change, and come back out. So the logic was that it is no different than the old system. The difference to me is that before I would go in and get change, and put it in the meter right in front of my car, being able to see if in that time I'd received a ticket. Now I might go to a pay station and not be able to see my car to know if I'd already gotten a ticket or not. More pay stations would fix the second issue. I think people with a greater percentage of people being familiar with the pay stations, and more people using park mobile, that the lines at the pay stations will quickly dissipate. I think the high parking rates are going to continue to erode Ferndale's business core, which ironically this entire system was put in place to help.
Ferndale_1986 February 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Government can't do anything right. Charging more for parking will only drive people away from shopping in Ferndale.
Easydude February 12, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Listening LOL, the DDA never listens. Its either Cristina Sheppard-Decius way or no other way. Please the stations were up prior to the Council even voting. I know, many seniors were upset about the 9 a.m. parking. I found it strange for the increase to 11 p.m. The lines were long this past weekend. I only wish the DDA would put cameras and additional lighting in the parking lot on West Troy. How many people have been robbed since last summer at gun point - - my count four?
Mr. Michael February 13, 2013 at 06:00 AM
I agree with Chris Johnston, Ferndale_1986 and Easydude. Here's my suggestion. Restore the old rates and meters and then we all vote as a city as to whether we want crazy fluctuating rates and pay stations that 1. You have to walk additional distance to. 2. Stand in line to pay (making yourself a potential crime target). 3. Figure out how to make a these lame kiosks work without having it eat credit cards or malfunction. 4. Risk a ticket because a kiosk may be out of order. (this happens all the time in Detroit and I have the tickets to prove it). A city wide vote is what should've happened in the first place.
Motown Voice February 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM
I drive a hybrid and don't have to pay for parking. I don't even know what ya'll are belly achin' about. "Government can't do anything right." What a load of confederate bunk.
Motown Voice February 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM
God forbid you should have to walk. Eek.
Joann February 13, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Now if you only have dimes and nickles, you can still park, or no cash, you can use a credit card or Parkmobile. So many more options. Just because the machine will take a bill, doesn't mean you have to put one in. Detroit also has higher fees for parking, not just Birmingham and Royal Oak. Ferndale is just coming up to speed. I sincerly doubt a quarter for parking is not going to discourage anyone from coming to Ferndale.
Chris Johnston February 13, 2013 at 01:43 PM
@Joann, The increase is 50 cents an hour, not 25. You and I live in Ferndale, so the ability to walk is there, and I do Motown Voice. As I said, I'm only concerned at this point about the rate, not the system itself. And I'm more concerned with residents who visit Ferndale, and in particular those who don't have or can't afford a hybrid and get to park for free.
Chris Johnston February 13, 2013 at 01:44 PM
make that "I'm more concerned with NON-residents who visit Ferndale"
Frank Castronova February 13, 2013 at 01:50 PM
You're right Easydude (I think I know who you are, BTW), the DDA does not listen. Residents near downtown only have to think back to our parking problems and the noise from Rosie O'Grady's to know that's true. It wasn't until a city councilman took up the parking issue that anything at all happened.
Motown Voice February 13, 2013 at 02:16 PM
The problem isn't the parking FEE ... the problem is parking. Make places for people to visit a cool town and they'll gladly pay to stop and shop. That's good for the city. Critics probably should just suck it up and stop the nostalgia. It's a waste of energy.
Seth Painter February 13, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Garbage cans by these things PLEASE! There is suddenly a lot of garbage around the pay stations. Ferndale, c'mon now... we're better than this!
Seth Painter February 13, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Votes don't always work because the typical citizen has no idea what's best for the future; he knows only what's best for him, right now, in this particular instance.
Robert Zograph February 13, 2013 at 03:10 PM
To actually say that you are NOT going to write parking tickets, "The city is giving out courtesy tickets instead of actual parking tickets until people become more familiar with the pay stations." That is crazy, and is going to cost the city thousands of dollars. This should have been thought through with more public meetings, personally. No one wants to pay extra for parking, but it is a necessity to get a new garage, but this was a flawed system from the start.
Sherri (Roe) Olson February 13, 2013 at 03:12 PM
When I was stuck waiting in line the other night in the dark & in the freezing wind, there were about 6 people that said they would not be back to eat here because of the problems! I wonder how many other visitors won't return because if their bad experience! Very poorly implemented & yes, should have at least waited until warmer weather & longer daylight to start this!
Jennifer Sakey February 13, 2013 at 03:20 PM
I used the new pay station for the first time last night at the parking lot adjacent to the library. The lot wasn't showing up on my ParkMobile app, so I paid at one of the kiosks. Waiting in line in the dark while being approached by panhandlers for money wasn't the best first-impression of this new system.
Donna February 13, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I paid in the dark on 9 mile the other night, and a angry beggar gave me a hard time while I was trying to figure out the system for the first time. The only change I had was for the parking and it took too long. I wish I could have just dumped the quarters and get on my way quicker the all that rigamarole
Sherri (Roe) Olson February 13, 2013 at 03:49 PM
That's one of my biggest concerns, despite all the hassle of the new system, is the potential for more crime commented against the people standing at the pay stations! Even when ParkMobile is working for us to pay on our phone while sitting safely in our car, not everyone has smart phones to use this app! It's dangerous standing there with your mind & eyes focused on the kiosk instructions instead of paying attention to your surroundings!
Daniel Gonyea-Alexander February 13, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I found myself most bothered by the 15 minute parking meters being taken from the library. They were super helpful when I just wanted to run in and drop off my books or pick up my holds. The fact they are coming back is only a small victory, though. It's hard to take into consideration everything everyone is saying on here. Obviously, there are plenty I agree with, but also there are a ton of people hiding behind the "veil of anonymity" saying things that need looked into - sorry to say, guys, I'm not going to take your word for it because being anonymous gets rid of the most important thing when you're trying to make statements about the government and people in it - your credentials. In light of that, I'll leave all the "government can't do this" and "this person is this" statements out of my comments and thinking on the situation, but that doesn't mean I haven't seen the personal aspect of it. I do worry most about people who are coming to Ferndale to visit and seeing the garbage all over the ground from the kiosks, seeing the hiked up rates (which are higher than Royal Oak, I believe), but I also worry about people who live in Ferndale visiting downtown, as well. Ferndale is big and not everyone has the ability to walk to downtown without it eating into a nice sized chunk of their day and forget about it if it's cold and windy out. So far, I'm just not seeing any benefits to this new system, nor is anyone I know.
Jacob February 13, 2013 at 04:27 PM
I think people are missing the real problem with the parking system. It's not necessarily the cost, but the hassle associated with finding a parking spot, finding a method of payment, figuring out how to pay, trying to think about how long you might need to be parked, and worrying about being somewhere too long and having your meter expire. it's laborious. That's why many people are going to choose a big box store, chain restaurant, or mall with nearly unlimited free parking, for their needs. It's too bad they can't think of better ways to raise revenue.
Heatherleigh Navarre February 13, 2013 at 06:49 PM
The patrons visiting my shop are making about half a dozen complaints daily, citing many of the issues voiced in the above article. Unfortunately, this system, though a seemingly sincere effort to address a real problem, is so far resulting in visitors to our town feeling unsafe, gouged, and irritable before they even step into a Ferndale business. Not fun to be greeting so many visitorsok who've just struggled with the frustration trifecta of buggy tech, long lines, and panhandlers. Additionally, I've had over a dozen people leave my shop in a rush, saying they had to go because they were concerned about getting a ticket. Obviously, the less time people spend in local businesses, the less money they're spending, too. I appreciate all the DDA does to improve the downtown. I know they sometimes get a bad rap, and I may not always agree with their decisions, but as a resident and business owner I feel my interests are more supported by them than by current city officials. My concern is for the safety and comfort of my clients, about 60% of whom are not fom Ferndale. I hope this system is adjusted quickly to be EASY to use, fairly priced, and above all, safe. The current system seems to meet none of those three basic criteria. Heatherleigh Navarre Boston Tea Room
Frank Castronova February 14, 2013 at 12:23 AM
I just came home from a quick trip to the library. I was behind two people waiting to pay. My first issue was focusing on my four-digit space number. I'm glad I did not have much on my mind--I'd hate to have been preoccupied or have some sort of learning disability (not meant to be disrespectful at all, but can't imagine how difficult it might be for someone with problems with memory). Why do the spaces need to be four digits long anyway? There are likely less than 1,000 spots in downtown Ferndale. My other issue was the time it took to wait. There are way too many steps to pay for parking. The parking machines by Wayne State are quicker to use and more intuitive.
Ferndale_1986 February 14, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Channel 4 News story tonight -----> http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/New-Ferndale-parking-meters-causing-confusion-frustration/-/1719418/18536534/-/format/rsss_2.0/-/uohprkz/-/index.html
Buddyb February 15, 2013 at 01:45 PM
I'm sure all of you can agree who braved to take their date out on Valentines Day yesterday. Well here's my pro's n con's: 1) Standing in long line(s) freezing your anus off. 2)Trying to remember your dang assigned number after waiting in line for 15 minutes (no exaggeration) 3) A potential target staring at a stupid screen trying to follow the directions instead of paying attention to what's around you! 4) Brand new machines malfunctioning already. 5) Some drunk idiot is going to vandalize the machine and then you'll have ONE machine to deall with 500+ parking spots behind B-Dubs. 6) Getting a ticket while waiting in line to get a stupid receipt! Oh btw why does the stupid machine even ask you if you need a receipt?(NO I'd rather get a ticket, you keep the receipt friendly machine....) PRO- Solidarity in line with all races, sexes n creeds because unilaterally we ALL HATE this new parking situation!!
Kay Watson February 17, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Mr.Michael, I agree with you. One trip down there absolutely cured me. I won't be back.


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