More efficient parking system coming to Grosse Pointe City

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 31, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — New, more efficient parking enforcement equipment is coming to Grosse Pointe City — but officials insist it isn’t an effort to issue more parking tickets.

New software will replace existing software that’s almost 15 years old, and with the new software and equipment, officials say they’ll be able to automate more functions, reduce manpower and improve efficiency.

“The intent isn’t to write more tickets now,” City Manager Pete Dame said during an Oct. 18 Grosse Pointe City Council meeting. “The goal is to make sure that people pay and follow the rules when they park.”

The equipment and software will be used for on-street parking and City-operated lots.

The software the City uses now is “no longer supported by the manufacturer,” Public Service Director Pete Randazzo said. “It’s run by an old version of Microsoft.”

The City’s parking enforcement agent will be given a special mobile phone and printer to write tickets based on findings from a car-mounted camera with a license plate recognition system, Randazzo said. The license plate recognition system will be able to access the permit parking system, mobile payment application program Passport and pay stations in parking lots to determine whether a motorist has paid for parking. Anyone in violation will be issued a manual parking ticket. Because, with the new program, the tickets will be synced with the City Municipal Court tracking system, ticket recipients will be able to either immediately pay or contest a ticket, instead of waiting until the records are updated at the end of the parking agent’s shift, Randazzo said.

The parking enforcement agent will be able to make the rounds more quickly, freeing up that person for other responsibilities, such as parking lot maintenance and customer service, City officials said.

“I am not enthused about a more efficient parking system,” City Councilman Daniel Williams admitted with a laugh, “but it will increase revenues, and it’s well needed.”

Dame said the City doesn’t get a lot of revenue now from parking tickets, and they don’t expect that revenue to suddenly spike with the new equipment.

For parking spaces that have time limits, the enforcement agent can check to see if a motorist has been in that spot for too long. Officials say this replaces the old method of chalking tires, which is no longer permitted by the courts.

An advantage of the new system is that the software will enable the City to track parking usage.

“So, we get more information on street parking than we’ve had in the past,” Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak said.

Previously, only the parking structure was able to provide this kind of data.

With options such as paying remotely with the Passport app or using a credit card, City Councilman Chris Walsh said the pay stations the City has now are “a far better option” than the parking meters they replaced. City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. agreed.

“You don’t have to have change in your car (to pay for parking),” Parthum noted.

New payment options also, in some cases, enable motorists to add money to the meter remotely.

Tomkowiak confirmed that this system was something the City had been planning on acquiring.

“So this, to me, is not anything new,” Tomkowiak said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of a low bid from Tannery Creek of $67,260 for the equipment, software and the first year’s full-service maintenance coverage and software license. In the second and subsequent years, the annual cost will be $28,500.

With regard to the lifespan of the system, Randazzo said it’s about a decade.

“Ten years is a good run,” Randazzo said.