(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 11, 2013)
Ferndale City Council has voted to extend free parking until March 24th, and to revert rates back to 50 cents per hour until further study can be done on what rates would be appropriate.
Mayor David Coulter cautioned that the 50 cent rates would not be permanent if the City were to move forward with plans on expanding the parking system’s capacity, such as by adding a parking deck.
Parking has always been a contentious subject in Downtown Ferndale as the City and the DDA have struggled to find ways to deal with the over-burdened system. On busy nights it can be impossible to find a spot, causing visitors to park on residential streets or simply to go elsewhere.
Recently multi-space parking meters were installed and the rates increased. Both occurrences caused confusion and frustration for visitors and business owners. Long lines and inadequate lighting made the situation even worse. City administration has been working to resolve the problems, and had instituted a parking holiday set to expire March 11th.
At the March 11 City Council meeting, City Manager April McGrath spoke about changes that will take place. She stated that the “Pay Here” signs will be raised to make them easier for visitors to see, and that new solar-powered lights will be added. There will also be lighted keyboards installed. The number of machines will increase from 20-34.
Council approved extending free parking while these changes are setup. After that enforcement will only be done until 8pm for a trial length of time through May 1st. After that the enforcement hours will be 10am to 11pm. The 8pm time is so there is a window of time to perfect illumination methods in the areas of the machine, keeping in mind both efficiency and safety.
The rates, which have been reverted to 50 cents an hour, will remain temporarily while city administration gathers data and researches a more detailed plan for how increased revenue will be used to address the parking system growth. Previous studies have suggested that a parking deck is a likely solution.
Employee parking passes have also gone back to their rate of $240 a year.
For a more detailed history of the parking system development, see our previous stories: