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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.”

Nickel November 06, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Lee, Show me where in the constitution, the motor vehicle code or any other code for that matter that states a homeowner is entitled to front parking spaces? Really? are you just firing from the hip? As for Cosmo's comments, right on. Those residents complained from day one about the train noise, duh! they moved into a complex less then 50yds from a railroad line. And as for the airplane noise, the city of dearborn still has an ongoing lawsuit regarding this topic. Cosmo - you are right on
Lee Jacobsen November 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Nickel, We are all entitled to Life , Liberty , and the pursuit of Happiness, right? Show me in the code etc where disturbing the peace, pissing on lawns, etc is permitted. If it were your lawn, a frown would be on your face I bet. Show me in the code where home owners are not allowed to have parking spaces. Common sense should prevail , and that would nod toward the home owners regarding parking spaces, and the trains regarding noise issues. What airplanes? With the price of fuel under Obama, there are a lot fewer of them going overhead. Obama wants solar and wind. Bring back the blimps. No sound, plenty of space for solar panels to provide power, and proven acceptability, we see the blimps at football games all the time. Electric solar panels could power the trains, but what makes the noise are the air horns, two long, one short, one long. Here comes the train. Parking? We have a parking structure nearby......let the bars pay a fee or stamp a ticket, and let the patrons park 'free'. I am surprised those parking meters are still 'in working condition', with all the beer and piss being in the vicinity. A solution will be found, hopefully not destructive or violent. Beer and commonsense often are not used in the same sentence for a reason......
homeowner November 08, 2012 at 02:45 AM
This was a highly desirable development with a variety of retail business and downtown living, not a bar district 15 years ago when many of us purchased our homes. We chose to live here! We frequent local businesses. Trains/planes have NEVER been an issue. WE GET THAT! Developers assured guest parking at the west end of the complex. Never happened. When paid parking was initiated we were told there would be no meters at our front doors. Do you have elderly/handicapped parents/family/friends coming to your home and paying to park down the street? Homeowners inquired about passes for the street or decks only to be told ‘sorry’. At your home have you ever- Had shrubs dug up/taken? Planter pots stolen? Flowers pulled out? Property defaced? Lights stolen or destroyed? Opened your front door to find strangers on your porch eating/drinking/leaving their trash? Found underwear, condoms and tampons? Had anyone urinate at your door or in your landscaping? Our courtyard, adjacent to Starbucks, has lights repeatedly destroyed & flowers uprooted. The ‘No Smoking’ sign is disregarded and some felt the need to deface it. Dog owners let pets defecate. People are welcome in our courtyard, but not abuse or destroy it. The “issue of living together” accommodates the bars/collects parking revenue with deaf ears to the taxpaying homeowners. It’s sad to see deterioration in an area with much promise. When the real estate market improves, sadly, many will surrender and leave.
Lee Jacobsen November 08, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Homeowner, you outlined the problem very well, and perhaps offered a solution, which is passes, similar to handicapped passes, that would allow parking in front of your homes. Most of the problems may stem from drunks wobbling to their cars, parked in fromt of your homes. if you are parked there instead, they won't wobble over and urinate on the lawns , sit on the porch , etc. I would garner support for passes, do not accept the 'sorry' excuse, and , if the city turns a deaf ear, hit them where they pay attention, ie the pocket book. If the meters do not produce income, then they are a liability to the city. It is not hard to figure out the next step. Epoxy is cheap. I would 'never' recommend such a drastic step as it states right on the meters that making them inoperable is against the law. Hint to the city, passes to the homeowners is less hassle in the long run....
Nickel December 13, 2012 at 04:37 AM
WOW, like none of that ever happens in another part of the city? Hell yes it does! having said that, get rid of the paid parking all together. DUMB, DUMB. Also, get rid of the permit parking. It amazes me that a city street can be restricted to residences only. Don't we all pay for the city streets?

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