More than 50 parking spaces at Salem United Church of Christ will be transformed into public city parking spaces as early as Aug. 1.

More than 50 parking spaces at Salem United Church of Christ will be transformed into public city parking spaces as early as Aug. 1.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Farmington strikes parking agreement with Salem UCC

More than 50 public parking spaces added

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published July 27, 2020


FARMINGTON — More than 50 new public parking spaces will become available  in Farmington, potentially as soon as Aug. 1.

The Farmington City Council approved July 20 — Council member David Delind was absent — moving forward with a parking agreement with Salem United Church of Christ, 33424 Oakland St., that will add more than 50 public parking spaces to the city.

Farmington City Manager David Murphy said the city has been working through the agreement for two years. The more than 50 spaces add to the 18 angled public parking spaces the city added when Oakland Street reopened in November.

“Having that parking field within a walkable distance for our essential business district in downtown is really a crucial piece of our parking strategy,” Downtown Development Authority Director Kate Knight said. “It fills in another piece of our strategy for connectivity. We want to bring in that pedestrian connection from neighborhoods (and) access additional parking services wherever we can … in this case, a nice, sizable parking field that really is a seamless connection into downtown.”

“It’s something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time working in partnership with Salem UCC.”

The public parking spaces will be open for parking 6 a.m.-3 a.m. No overnight parking will be allowed. The church plans to retain nine spaces for private use — the two closest to the main door on the church’s west side and the seven closest to the church’s north entrance.

Salem UCC Board President Stephanie Gerlofs said the 3 a.m. close time was chosen to allow time for downtown bar employees to perform closing tasks and still get to their cars before the lot would close. Under Michigan law, bars are required to stop selling alcohol at 2 a.m.

While the city benefits from the agreement through added public parking spaces and greater connectivity, Gerlofs said the biggest benefit to the church is monetary.

“Churches in general right now are having a harder time, I think, getting monetary donations than they used to. Church attendance is down, and it’s another outlet for us to remain vital in the area and still try to maintain our budget,” Gerlofs said. “It was a win-win when we looked at it for all parties involved. I’m looking forward to it.”

According to the agreement, the city will pay Salem UCC $650 per month in a five-year contract for use of the parking lot. Murphy said the city will likely budget $8,500 per year — about $43,000 over the five years — to pay for leasing fees and any minor repairs that pop up.

The agreement also states the city will be responsible for installing lighting and new signage in the parking lot, restriping the lot, and fixing any minor issues that arise, and Farmington police will patrol the lot. Salem UCC will be responsible for major lot improvements and snow plowing.

The church will be able to close off its lot as needed for special events, such as funerals, with 24-hour notice to the city, if possible. Gerlofs said the church won’t close the lot for Sunday services, thinking there will be adequate parking.

“I think it’ll be pretty open on Sunday. That’s at least what we’re anticipating. I don’t think it’ll be heavily used over the weekend so much. I’m hoping it’ll be used more through the week.”

Murphy anticipates that if the city can ink the deal Aug. 1, drivers could begin parking there that same day. Restriping, lighting and signage work may happen after the lot is officially open for use.

Knight said the lot is “coming online at a perfect time” to provide downtown business employees — including new GLP Financial employees moving into the Farmington State Savings Bank and other growth she anticipates over the next few years — more places to park, especially as many of the city’s long-term parking options at the Maxfield Training Center will go offline, at least temporarily, with the redevelopment of that site, she said.

Consumers will see benefits from the newly added parking spaces, too.

“I think it provides another area for people to park at, and then, hopefully, be able to take a nice short walk downtown and stay for a lengthy time, do whatever they like to do, and spend their dollars in downtown Farmington,” Murphy said. “We needed more unlimited parking spaces. … I’m really happy about this.”

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