Hood Price Not Fair

March 18, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Eastown Business Association President Gera Whittie told parking commissioners recently that the cost of putting those orange hoods over parking meters on Wealthy Street during the annual street fair isn’t, well, fair.

Whittie, founding partner of the communications design company The W Group, said the association pays the city $580 for the covers to ensure vendors can set up their booths along a closed Wealthy Street for the fair day. She said members of the business association could take over the labor part of the city’s cost, as they would pick up the hoods, install the covers on the meters, and then return the hoods to Parking Services.

By doing those chores, Whittie said the business group estimated it could reduce its cost for the hoods by more than $300.

But Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said the city’s unionized employees would probably become upset with someone else doing their job.

The city raised its fee for a meter hood two years ago from $4 to $10 a day in an effort to speed up construction projects that were tying up public spaces and to recoup a larger share of lost parking revenue from the meters being inaccessible.

The Eastown Street Fair needs to have 58 meters hooded on Wealthy Street, so the cost to the business association for the day-long event is $580.

“Anytime a street is closed, the hoods have to be on the meters,” said Barbara Singleton of Parking Services.

But if the city became a co-sponsor of the fair, the cost of a hood would be lowered to $4 and the business group would be charged $232.

“The Eastown Street Fair is a Grand Rapids institution,” said Jack Hoffman, chairman of the Parking Commission, who remarked that commissioners would review the issue.

The street fair is set for Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.   

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