Baldwin House residents receive check from city
By Grace Lovins
Residents living at Birmingham’s Baldwin House, located at 200 Chester Street, who paid for parking at an adjacent parking structure in violation of an agreement between the city and the facility, will be getting their money back after city commissioners authorized the city attorney and finance director on Monday, October 16, to issue checks.
Last year, the city discovered that a number of residents living at Baldwin House between 2009 and 2022 had been charged for parking at the Chester Street parking structure that they should have received at no cost per a parking agreement between the senior living facility and the city.
According to city attorney Mary Kucharek, the city and Baldwin House entered into an agreement back in March of 1990 that provided Baldwin House with 69 parking spaces in the Chester Street parking garage for tenants and their guests, with parking to be provided free of charge to residents. Per the city manager’s report written by former city manager Tom Markus in July 2022, residents were being charged by Baldwin House at almost double what the public paid.
“What we were able to uncover and what made this so complicated was that there were many different fact scenarios. There was not a one scenario fitting each person,” said Kucharek.
“We discovered that there were persons who paid directly to Baldwin House for various times of various amounts of money. There were persons who paid directly to our third-party management company, SP Plus, for parking of different times and of different amounts. We also uncovered that there were likely some employees who used those spots without paying for them and who were not entitled to use them,” she continued.
The city worked with Baldwin House to crossmatch data and determine the final numbers from residents who paid the parking fee, per Kucharek, and who will soon be receiving their money back. She also noted that the data was compiled from records kept by SP Plus of people who paid directly to them and Baldwin House’s records of residents who paid directly to them. The city also used a resident survey.
Residents who paid directly to Baldwin House were reimbursed by the company directly. The city was also able to negotiate the cost for the employees who may have parked in the garage during that period, Kucharek said, which equated to $12,000. Ultimately, Baldwin House paid $25,000 as a “measure of good will,” per Kucharek.
Kucharek said the money being issued to the residents, amounting to roughly $66,800, is coming from the city’s parking fund. About 37 Baldwin House residents will be receiving a check. The city is reportedly communicating with self-appointed leaders of the residential community to discuss the process and the administration of the checks.
Commissioners voted 7-0 to authorize Kucharek and finance director Mark Gerber to issues the checks to Baldwin House residents that had unnecessarily paid for parking. Kucharek emphasized that if any Baldwin House resident who paid but has not been in touch with either Baldwin House or the city to reach out to city administration.