City Manager Jonathan Smith demonstrates a paid-parking kiosk for City Council. Photo by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
A six-part plan could create up to 194 new spots to park in the city, including some in front of Washington Street homes.
The recommendations, presented at Monday’s City Council meeting, include adding 100 tons of gravel to city-owned easements on E. Washington, to encourage parking there.
Parking is allowed on all easements of sufficient width, but some of it is covered in grass on Washington. Replacing all of it with gravel, where there are no trees, would let people know they can park there, said City Manager Jonathan Smith at the July 24 meeting.
“People try to protect people’s grass,” Smith said.
Mayor Steven Percival said they should survey the residents on Washington about it before taking action.
“My concern is residents have some say in this,” Percival said.
City DPW employees could do the work for $4,000, Smith said.
Graveling Washington was not considered new parking. However, converting street parking on Depot Road from parallel to angled would increase parking from 13 to 27 spots, at a cost of $300.
A brief review by city engineer Gary Tressel didn’t show a problem, as long as it remains a one-way street, Smith said.
“We’ll need a formal assessment to be sure,” he said.
“I’ve always thought that would be a really good solution,” said Council member Sharron Catallo.
Percival recommended a crosswalk and speed bump to slow traffic, for when people back up.
Smith said they will look for other places where there is enough width to back out.
“It would double your capacity,” he said.
Allowing easement parking on the south side of White Lake Road would add 44 spaces. This would require approval by the Road Commission for Oakland County, Smith said.
“It would be as simple as pulling the signs,” the city manager said.
Parking or shuttle service to the Renaissance High School parking lot would add 80 spaces. Approval by Clarkston Community Schools would be required, Smith said.
“It’s on (Superintendent Dr.) Rod Rock’s desk right now – he’s on vacation,” said Council member Detkowski. “The reality is we’re going to have to ask folks to walk into town. Unfortunately, some hiking is involved in these, but at least they’re options.”
Removing permit parking in the Washington and Main lot would add 26 spots for the public.
“They were put in place to help individuals who came into town everyday and needed spots to park. Unfortunately, that’s not a luxury we can accommodate anymore. We need those spots,” Smith said.
More than a third of the lot is reserved for permit holders, he said.
“I think we lost control of permit parking. We lost the true meaning of that,” Percival said. “Anybody who came in, we gave them a permit.”
A hybrid program of paid kiosk parking during the day and valet service on busy restaurant nights would raise revenue and add 30 valet spots, Smith said.
The valet provider could operate from 4-11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 50-50 revenue split, packing in 30 more cars than drivers could do themselves, with $2 million insurance provided by the valet company.
Curt Catallo, owner of Union Joints restaurants, said the valet parking idea would be inconvenient for customers and change the character of downtown. “It’s a cultural thing, people don’t want to give their cars up,” Curt said. “Making that valet parking is not the Clarkston I know – it’s a high risk item for the businesses.”
Three bids would be sought for valet parking in the Washington and Main street lot, which would provide an estimated revenue of $3,000 monthly, Smith said.
The city should also consider allowing downtown valet parking, using outlying parking lots. Where cars would be dropped off and picked up still needs to be determined, he said.
A proposal to purchase a kiosk was included on the agenda, but City Council declined to vote on it.
“I think it’s premature. I’m just learning about the kiosk (purchase) option tonight,” said Detkowski, also a member of the Parking Committee.
Council member Jason Kneisc, also on the parking committee, said the committee still needs to work out the details before the purchase is made.
“If we’re voting on buying an $8,500 piece of equipment, I need to know the hours, what it look like, the dollar amount,” Kneisc said. “We need to have the blocking and tackling handled – we owe that to the public.”
“Let’s get this formalized and get it to the council,” Percival said.
The city took four bids for kiosks, and recommends the $8,500 unit from Harvey Electronics and Radio of Wixom, with a total including delivery and installation of $9,840, and projected monthly revenue of $10,500.
Bids were also received from IPS Group of San Diego, Calif., unit price of $6,650, with shipping, installation, $9,350; Light and Breuning, Inc., of Fort Wayne, Ind., unit price of $9,900, with set up and hosting, $10,795; and Traffic and Safety Control Systems, Inc., of Wixom, unit price of $11,824, with shipping and installation, $12,661.
The paid-parking kiosk for the Main and Washington street lot was the only recommendation from the Parking Committee presented to city council, for a possible vote.
“Maybe I jumped the gun and put it on there (agenda) before the committee reached consensus,” Smith said.
Council member Sharron Catallo said it wasn’t a blame issue, and more public comment was needed.
“This is a huge change,” Catallo said. “I’m not saying it’s a bad idea. It probably will happen. But we need to hear some from the public.”
Peg Roth of Clarkston Retailers Group said businesses at the Main and Washington corner expressed concerns about paid parking driving customers away.
Pete Berishaj, owner of Olde Village Cafe, said he has seen families leave his restaurant after their driver couldn’t find a place to park.
“Customers are already warning me, if they have to pay for parking they won’t come in here,” Berishaj said.
The Parking Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesdays, July 26 and Aug. 2, at 6:30 p.m.
“Let it go back to the parking committee, do their work over the next two weeks, and come back to the council in August,” Percival said.
“The bottom line is we have to do something and we have to do something soon,” Detkowski said.
The recommendations would cost a total of $12,800, and revenue of $13,500.