Birmingham city commissioners, on Monday, June 25, unanimously approved restoring and expanding Birmingham's Lot 6 parking lot on N. Old Woodward, adding 34 parking spaces to the rear, and providing buffering for stormwater runoff, with costs being paid for through the city's parking system.
Assistant city manager Tiffany Gunter explained that the lot currently “has an exceptionally high demand during the week, and is the home to our Farmers Market for seven months of the year. In 2006, the city looked at expanding and repairing it, but tabled it due to neighborhood concerns.”
Over the ensuing 12 years, demand for parking in the lot has grown, “with a severe imbalance between demand and supply,” Gunter said, and the lot continues to deteriorate, notably in the rear, adjacent to where the lot meets part of the Rouge River.
The city's ad hoc parking committee analyzed three options, one of which did not increase parking; the second which added a minimal amount; and the third, which added 34 spaces in the rear, which the committee recommended, as well as providing landscaping and buffering to the riverbed as well as to stormwater runoff. The cost of the project is estimated at $497,000.
“On March 7, the committee held a public hearing,” Gunter said. “We got a lot of positive feedback from businesses. We had no feedback from residents.”
They explored three options for funding at a May meeting, including applying for a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) which would pay for about 80 percent of the stormwater portion of the project, but could delay the improvements about a year, “and there's no certainty we would secure the grant, so the committee decided against it, as time is of the essence,” Gunter said.
Another option was a special assessment district, for the parking expansion portion only, or to pay for it with proceeds of the parking enterprise fund.
“The committee did not see value in a special assessment district, and felt it would set a bad precedent,” she said. She noted that going with the parking fund, the project could be documented, as well.
“I'm very supportive of expansion if it goes along with the bioswale and cleans up the river, and I'm supportive of not charging individuals,” said commissioner Carroll DeWeese. “It will allow the market to grow and get bigger, so I think that's the appropriate decision.”
Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the restoration and expansion using parking funds, with commissioner Mark Nickita absent.