(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 10, 2013)
People who park in Downtown Ferndale will notice some changes in the next month and a half, including possible increases in parking fees and the removal of individual parking meters from the street and city lots, with central payment centers installed and waiting to go online.
The changes are part of a long-term parking plan created by the DDA and the City of Ferndale to help raise money for more parking, most likely in the form of a parking structure. Over the past few years, the DDA and the City have taken several steps to make the parking system more profitable so that money can be set aside for improvements and growth.
History of Working Together to Solve the Parking Problem
In 2006 a study of the Central Business District found that it could use another 483 parking spots based on the needs of the businesses during peak hours.
In 2009 the City raised the price of a parking ticket $6 to $10, with the additional $4 going directly into the parking and highways fund. The DDA also proposed limiting which lots could have monthly permits, and increased rates for prime locations, though these suggestions did not pass.
In 2010 the DDA proposed purchasing the parking system from the City. That proposal was declined, however the discussions helped solidify the need for the City and the DDA to work together to solve the parking problem. Public forums were held to come up with ideas and talk about the problem with residents and business owners.
In Nov. 2011 the DDA launched the Parkmobile Pay by Phone System, which allowed people to use their credit cards over their phone or to use quarters. This offered flexibility as well as the potential to collect more as meters would not run out as long as the person was signed into Parkmobile.
Ferndale Park Plus
2013 is starting out with some big changes. Central multi-space meters have already been installed in most of the public parking lots, just waiting for the old meters to be removed and replaced with signage letting drivers know what their space number is, and where they can go to pay.
The new system, called Ferndale Park Plus, has a solar-powered computerized station in each lot. There is even a website dedicated to the project, found at http://www.ferndaleparkplus.com/. The website explains: “Installed and operated by the City of Ferndale, Ferndale Park+ pay stations will service 900+ parking spaces in all 13 city lots and select street blocks in Downtown Ferndale, replacing the traditional coin-drop meter. The pay stations will accept cash (all coins and paper), credit and debit cards. The face of the pay station features a digital display, providing users with transaction information, including time of day, amount of time purchased, and expiration time. Once the payment is received, the machine generates a receipt for you to keep–and then it’s just off to your destination.”
The website offers a tutorial video as well as other information for potential Ferndale Park Plus users.
Proposed Rate Changes
On Monday, Jan. 14 the Ferndale City Council will consider the rate changes proposed by the Parking Committee, the City Management Team, and a consultant who did comparisons of other parking systems in the region.
The proposed changes include a tiered fee system, with less-used lots having lower hourly fees.
“The intent with the new parking rates is to create price points that create movement of cars where necessary,” wrote City Manager April McGrath in the Council Agenda Packet. “We want to encourage on-street parking for quick trips to a store or takeout, not a leisurely day shopping or a long lunch or dinner break. The intent to is to encourage consumers to park in the lots when they will be in the downtown for long periods of time and keep the on-street parking for those wanting the in and out options. Two hour on-street parking in a downtown is the most important parking option for retail and service businesses. The turnover of these parking spaces can make or break a small business that relies on customer typically spending less than two hours in their location.” The current rate is 50 cents per hour. Suggested new rates are:
$1.00 per hour On-street Parking
$0.75 per hour in most lots
$0.50 per hour in Lot #1
$1.00 per hour in all lots after 7:00pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Council will vote on the proposed new rates at the Jan. 14, 2013 Council meeting. Once rates are determined, and signage changes are made, the new Ferndale Park Plus system will be ready to launch.
DDA Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decuis said “We hope to be live by Feb 15. Parking lots will go live as each lot is finished. We expect a two week installation process of the space signs and removals, basically two lots per day.”
Employee and Business Owner Permits
The parking committee is proposing that long term parking rates be raised, and that the rate should depend on the lot the employee chooses to use, again making the further lots less expensive than the most-desired ones. Currently a pass costs $40 per month, $80 per quarter or $240 per year. With a tiered system the monthly rate would be eliminated. Quarterly rates would range from $84 to $120, and the annual rates would range from $252 to $360.
Residential Permits Still in Debate
Traditionally residents have paid the same as employees and business owners. However the City Management Team, the DDA Parking Committee and the Consultant could not agree with what an appropriate residential rate should be. All agreed that it should be lower than the employee and business owner permits. Council is likely to discuss and set the rate at the Jan. 14 meeting.
Currently the meters are enforced Monday-Saturday 10am to 10pm. The Committee is recommending that the hours be extended to 9am to 11pm on the same days. This too will be Council’s decision.
To find out more about the proposed changes, view the Jan. 14, 2013 meeting agenda on the City of Ferndale website at http://www.ferndale-mi.com/.