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Neighbors express concerns about illegal parking

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 28, 2019


GROSSE POINTE SHORES — The closing off of the Osius Park parking lot to non-Grosse Pointe Shores residents seems to have had some unintended consequences.

Shores city officials approved a guardhouse at the parking lot entrance — similar to what the other residents-only parks in the Pointes have — as an effort to improve security; the gatehouse was installed this spring. Now, residents who live near Schroeder Field, which is across the street from Osius Park, say that attendees of Schroeder Field activities are creating traffic jams and safety hazards in their neighborhood.

Residents of some of the streets closest to Schroeder Field appeared before the Shores City Council May 21 to voice their concerns. The field is used by Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League and the EastSide FC, a Grosse Pointe Farms-based nonprofit youth soccer club founded in 1979.

On Saturday, May 18, resident Jan Pemberton said, there were three games taking place. Besides the young athletes and their parents, she said there were grandparents, friends and a host of other visitors jockeying for limited parking in the adjacent City Hall lots, which could only accommodate some of them.

“We don’t have (parking) facilities like the schools,” Pemberton said. “Now that you have gated parking over there (at Osius Park), they’re not going there. … They’re parking in front of our driveways. They’re parking in front of our (fire) hydrants.”

Donna Zade, another resident in that area, echoed that concern.

“They’re parked in front of fire hydrants,” Zade said. “God forbid there’s a fire in our neighborhood. What are we going to say — let it burn because there’s a baseball game?”

Pemberton said the noise level was very high and “there’s no monitoring of these children,” noting that she saw some kids get dropped off by parents who then left. Afterward, residents had to contend with garbage, water bottles and other items left behind.

City Councilwoman Tina Ellis, who lives on Regal Place, said she saw people park past cones marking an area where visitors could park, and they parked on both sides of the neighborhood’s narrow streets, making it impossible for residents to get in or out.

“How would we ever get an ambulance down the street?” Ellis asked.

Pemberton and other residents said they saw visitors moving parking cones and barriers to create parking for themselves.

“Jan, you raise some good points,” Mayor Ted Kedzierski said. “It’s something that we’re very concerned with.”

Zade said residents of the streets adjacent to Schroeder Field have trouble pulling out onto Vernier Road as well because visibility is dramatically reduced due to cars parked along Vernier and the side streets.

Residents praised public safety officers for doing what they could, but said people need to be ticketed, especially for parking in front of fire hydrants.

“Anywhere else, you’d get a huge ticket or a fine,” Zade said.

City Councilman Matthew Seely concurred.

“Tow a couple of cars (violating no parking rules), and that will end,” he said.

Public Safety Director John Schulte said that May 18 was an exceptionally challenging day because the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League team was making up for a couple of games that had been rained out.

“My officers did the best they could,” he said. “We will write tickets. … We were overwhelmed (that day).”

Making matters worse, Schulte said, his department was never told about the makeup games. He said the city does get a schedule for the regular season, but city officials aren’t told about games that get scheduled later because of weather-related cancellations.

“The other thing is, we have other responsibilities in the city,” Schulte said of his officers, who, in the Shores, respond to police, fire and medical calls. “Yes, Saturday was a mess. But the idea that we don’t issue violations is not correct.”

Schulte said that historically, people coming to games at Schroeder Field have been allowed to park on part of Vernier. He said that if residents and the council no longer want this, his officers can enforce a parking ban, but, “there are no other places to park. … I can’t create more parking.”

Zade suggested that Schroeder Field users could be directed to park on a grassy area off the City Hall parking lot that’s used as overflow parking for Osius Park swim meets. She also said that Little League and soccer users could be directed to park at Grosse Pointe North High School — which has a large parking lot — and then could carpool or be shuttled to the games.

Ellis expressed alarm upon learning that Little League and the EastSide FC weren’t paying to use Schroeder Field.

“That is not right,” Ellis said, pointing out that the city needs to pay its public safety and public works employees to monitor, maintain and clean up the field as a result of these games. “We don’t have extra money to provide a wonderful (venue) for them to play soccer.”

But as Kedzierski noted, some of the athletes live in Grosse Pointe Shores.

“Some of these kids are our residents,” said Tom Mellos, a member of the Shores Parks Committee. “This is a public thing for our residents too.”

City Councilman Bruce Bisballe suggested that the city’s new parks director — who is slated to be hired soon — could serve as a liaison between the teams and the city, and make sure that public safety and other administrators were aware of games in advance.

Kedzierski said that perhaps the city needs to “have an established policy” with regard to team usage of Schroeder Field.

Schulte encouraged residents to call the Public Safety Department if anyone is parking illegally on their street, and said that they would post signs and enforce parking violations they encounter.

“We will enforce whatever the wishes of the council are,” Schulte said.