Downtown Living Yields Crime, Parking Woes for Residents of West Dearborn Condos
An association member of the West Village Condos says of their problems with bar-goers, "On weekends, we pray for rain."
A west downtown condominium development is challenging the City of Dearborn’s metered parking—which happens to place downtown visitors directly in front of their homes.
Two board members of the Dearborn West Village condominiums came before the Parking Advisory Commission this month to ask that the commission make a request to City Council to remove the meters on West Village Drive. The meters, they said, leave them with no visitor parking, and encourage unwanted behavior on their front lawns.
“Our big concern here is what we have to tolerate as a result of the parking meters in front of our homes,” said Audrey Ralko, a resident of the 76-unit development of townhomes.
Vandalism, theft, public urination and drunkenness, and high noise levels are common occurrences, said fellow resident Barb Osman. The condos back up to the Michigan Avenue bar strip—an area teeming with activity on weekends and at late hours.
“It has gotten out of hand with the noise level, the garbage,” said Osman, who has filed several reports with the Dearborn Police Department for thefts and damage to plants and decorations on her front porch. “It’s costly.”
"On weekends, we pray for rain," Ralko added.
Osman and Ralko said they believe eliminating the metered spots on West Village would help alleviate those problems because bar-goers would have to park elsewhere.
But the meters in question, the commission contested, are high-use, premium parking spots.
According to 2011 numbers, the 22100 block of West Village generates an average of nearly $2,500 per month—more than any other block of meters in west downtown Dearborn. It accounts for around one quarter of the parking system’s revenue from on-street meters.
“Those meters are vital to revenue in our parking system,” Economic and Community Development Directory Barry Murray said at the last Parking Commission meeting. “They are convenient spaces … I think that’s an issue for downtown.”
“The issue is living together.”
Murray proposed that the association and the city look at a compromise which will lease them a space just east of the West Parking Deck to be paved and marked as permit-only parking for the condo complex’s residents and guests.
Ralko said that the association would be willing to discuss that plan.
However, the complaint of crime remains.
Dearborn Police Department Cpl. Mike Nelson explained that parking enforcement officers do compliance checks on West Village, but aren’t authorized to deal with crimes.
As for getting more officers out there come closing time for bars, Nelson said bar owners expressed concern that too many cops would scare their customers off.
“We try not to have so many that people feel intimidated—the bar patrons,” Nelson said.
Osman said they’ve spoken with Police Chief Ronald Haddad about their concerns and have noticed some relief from vandalism and public drunkenness in front of their homes. But the littering and the noise, she added, is still a major issue.
Still, Osman and Ralko stressed that they want to see the downtown thrive, and to continue to enjoy living in the district. All they ask is for some respect.
“It’s about having people sitting on your front porch,” Osman said. “In order to fill a downtown area, you need businesses, but you also want to have pride when your friends come over.
“I don’t want to see the community fall into disarray.”