Candidates share parking plans, thoughts on city’s future

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Here are the City Council candidates’ views on parking in the city, as well as possible future local development.
“I don’t believe there is a perfect solution to the parking issues in the city. With the re-opening of the parking lot on Depot Road there appears to be sufficient parking available,” said Al Avery. “I will work with stakeholders – residents, commercial property owners, and business owners – to come up with a reasonable method to control the parking in our city.”
To manage Clarkston’s development into the future while maintaining its traditions as a village, he would not allow any expansion of commercial development into our neighborhoods.
“Clarkston is a desirable place to live because of the small town charm that we have,” he said. “People need to have the comfort of knowing that their City leaders are working for them to protect their neighborhood. The Historic District Commission has been successful through the years in protecting the historical nature of our small town. This has helped to create strong property values for the residents. I support continuing the use of the HDC as we plan for the future.”
For Sharron Catallo, the city’s response to parking, initially, was not successful.
“Now we have professionals (our city planners) doing the appropriate research and they just completed a parking study, requested by the Planning Commission and City Council,” Catallo said. “A professional study should have been the first step and we should know the conclusions of their finished report soon.”
One of the considerations needs to be employee parking, she said.
“Years ago, the Main Street lot was for downtown customers and the village lot was for employee parking and overflow. Clearly, this configuration doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “The Council needs to consider working with businesses to find an answer to this situation.”
The question of how to manage Clarkston’s development into the future while maintaining its tradition as a village sounds like something that was asked 35 years ago, she said.
“It has been, and always will be, a delicate balance, well served by mindful zoning and an updated master plan,” she said. “Consistent enforcement is key. The bonus is young families are moving in with the knowledge we are going to be consistent in the defense of our zoning and in the care we give this meaningful place we call home.”
Rick Detkowski spent his first year on council trying to address the parking issue with zero funds available and our hands tied because of it.
“How much easier would life have been if we had followed the Parking Deferment in our charter all along? It might have saved the Parking Committee members a lot of time and saved me a few grey hairs,” Detkowski said.
With that, we must have full clarity in our efforts, he said.
“There should be no reason that we keep anything from the taxpayers or even appear to be doing so,” he said. “FOIA requests shouldn’t need to be debated during Council meetings or the subject of future lawsuits. FOIA is FOIA, period. There should be no question that the people being paid by taxpayers to give us information and advice are giving us good information and good advice. I’m proud to be one of the Council members who believes in these efforts. But, we definitely have a lot more work to do.”
Sue Wylie said many of the recent responses to the parking problem have been effective.
“We have more parking spots, the parking lines have been repainted, and parking on some city streets was limited, which increased the peace and safety of the residents,” Wylie said.
The paid parking in the Washington and Main lot increased non-tax revenue for the city. More recently, the city council voted for a professional parking study, she said.
“We are awaiting the outcome of the parking study, which will be released Monday (Oct. 8). The parking study will probably recommend some options and council members will have some difficult choices to make,” Wylie said. “These options may include permit parking on residential streets and turning more spots into paid parking. The study must be considered as a whole as we assess how best to help residents with the parking problems while retaining our city visitors.”
How to manage Clarkston’s development into the future while maintaining its traditions as a village hits at the heart of this election, she said.
“Some candidates advocate for no or extremely limited development in the city. In reality, development is a balancing act that must be carefully negotiated,” she said. “On the one hand, we want to protect what we have. One the other, we want to increase our tax base. The reality is, we have very few empty lots that can be developed. Our zoning ordinances protect the residential neighborhoods.”
The biggest change she would like to see is the development of the lot at Main and Waldon.
“It is currently zoned residential, and it has remained vacant for many years. I would like to see the zoning changed on that lot to at least allow multifamily housing,” Wylie said. “This would benefit local residents who are no longer interested in maintaining a large family home, but would like to remain in their home town, close to their friends and neighborhood. Development of this property would increase the tax base for the city, and, if planned correctly, could even provide more parking.”