The new, unmanned and supposedly smart parking meter stations in downtown Ferndale just upped the hourly rate by 25 cents.
The meter stations aren't working well, said Mike Weger, of Bloomington, Ind., who was in town Wednesday on business.
"You would think if you're trying to build up business in downtown Ferndale free parking is what you'd want, or make it very inexpensive. From my standpoint, it doesn't make a lot of sense," said Weger.
It's more than a learning curve problem, the city acknowledges. It's much more.
"I'm unhappy when my customers are unhappy," said Edward Chudnow, owner of Better Business Systems Group in downtown Ferndale.
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Chudnow's business sits next to one of the 1/2 dozen Ferndale lots with the new parking payment system. Although the city of Ferndale prides itself in being a cool city and hotbed for trendy restaurants and bars, Chudnow sees the city trying to cash in while costing smaller businesses dearly.
"If they would change the rates after 5 o'clock to the 75 cents, take advantage of the night traffic at the bar without punishing the small businesses during the day, that would be a big benefit," Chudnow said.
The city admits the whole parking program is difficult. However, it needs the cash to build a new parking ramp to handle the traffic.
"What we want to do is make it easier for people to come to Ferndale. Why should they come to Ferndale and pay for parking when they can go to the mall and park for free?" Chudnow said.
Chudnow's family has been doing business in Ferndale for 50 years. He is frustrated because, he says, City Hall isn't listening and doesn't care. He pointed out the city is using its auxiliary police to teach people how to use the parking stations when the bars get busy at night.