Merchants, patrons glad to see paid parking go

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Zainab Altarjoman (left) eats lunch at Panera Cares with her friends Zeinab Beydoun and Aya Beydoun March 12. The women were glad that paid parking in downtown west Dearborn will be a thing of the past.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Zainab Altarjoman (left) eats lunch at Panera Cares with her friends Zeinab Beydoun and Aya Beydoun March 12. The women were glad that paid parking in downtown west Dearborn will be a thing of the past.

By ZEINAB NAJM
TimesHerald Newspapers

DEARBORN — By the end of the month, user paid parking will be gone at parking decks and surface lots in west Dearborn. Parking lots with attendants will be free and the gates will be open to drivers who will not need a ticket to park.

Meters on the majority of streets will also be removed, 40 will remain along Mason, Howard and West Village Drive to encourage customer turnover.

The change in parking comes to help the city redevelop the downtown area.According to a press release the removal “addresses a popular sentiment that paying for parking in public lots, decks and onstreet spaces discourages customers who would otherwise patronize west Dearborn businesses.”

Merchants and customers were excited to hear about the new parking change.Panera Bread, Buffalo Wild Wings, Merchant’s Fine Wine and Kabuki Japanese Restaurant are some of the many businesses who are happy to see paid parking go.

“We’ve had customers complain about the parking,” said Colleen Kincaid, general manager of the Dearborn Panera Cares. “I’m excited and interested to see what the removal of paid parking does.”

John Lossia, owner of Merchant’s Fine Wine, said the paid parking affected everybody negativity.

“We think it’s a very good thing,” he said. “People don’t like to pay for parking. As a business we used to validate, pay for people’s parking and they still didn’t like to come in because it aggravated them.”

Buffalo Wild Wings employee Keith Hattie is happy forthe parking change because of the money he will save. “I spend almost $200 a month for parking at work,” Hattie said. “I think it’s great for the city and the businesses.”

Customer Amanda Kalas likes the idea.“It makes easier to come to restaurants and businesses more often,” she said. “I’m excited.”

“I love that I won’t have to pay for parking, it’s an annoying thing to do when I’m in the area,” said Panera Cares customer Zainab Altarjoman.

The decision was approved Oct. 21 by the City Council after a recommendation from the mayor and the Parking Advisory Commission.

“This is a very positive step that will help us achieve our goal of promoting more investment and activity in the west downtown,” Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said. “To get the best results for our local economy, we need to be realistic and remove anything that is perceived as an impediment to recreating a robust and vibrant business district.”

The public parking system will be financed with funds from the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and the city’s general fund.
While the change is happening, the city is discussing the reinstatement of a Special Assessment District to cover the operational costs of the parking system. The boundaries of the SAD and the cost allocation assigned to each business would be determined at public hearings before the City Council.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)

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