News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

City has less parking for safety’s sake


In a city where parking is an issue, Saugatuck now has less. Council May 29 voted 5-2 to ban parking on one side of eight narrow stretches of street and both sides of Pleasant Street.

The latter brought protests from three Pleasant landowners and two council members, all of whom understand the public-safety need for emergency-vehicle access but wished there’d more advance notice and time for them to lend input.

Saugatuck Township Fire District Chief Greg Janik was among those urging council to make the move. Narrow streets crammed with cars on both sides make fire truck and ambulance access near-impossible during times lives may be at stake. But for residents and renters, lack of parking is a problem too.

“My first concern,” said councilman Scott Dean for the majority, “is for public safety. I’m very sympathetic to people inconvenienced by this,” said Dean, “but I have to side with the chief on this one.”

“I see the sense of it too,” countered peer Russ Gardner. “The problem is we have heard from three Pleasant Street residents just tonight who said didn’t have prior notice before or input into a change affecting their homes and livelihoods.

“Given that, I don’t see the urgency of imposing this on them at this point,” Gardner said.

“It would be unconscionable,” said mayor pro-tem Helen Baldwin, “not to act on a situation we have

studied and know threatens public safety. Our short-term rental task has gone over this with public safety officials and the Department of Public Works for months now.”

“We also have trouble running snowplows and brush-pickup vehicles down those streets,” city DPW director Scott Herbert said. “Safety does take precedence,” said councilman Gregory Muncey. “You have to get an ambulance through there. But it matters we let people directly affected know and have input first.”

Dean, Baldwin, Logan White, Holly Anderson and mayor Lauren Stanton voted yes on the parking-restriction measures; Gardner and Muncey no “because of Pleasant,” both council members said.

Signage will be placed on affected streets apprising motorists on which side no parking is allowed. Affected narrow streets without curbs on both sides, which allows more “fudge” room, will be:

• Mason, between Grand and Elizabeth streets,

• Hoffman, between Grand and Elizabeth,

• Main, between Griffith and Elizabeth,

• Mary, between Grand and Griffith,

• Grand, between Hoffman and Spear,

• Newnham, between its north end and Lucy,

Pleasant, which runs southeast from Allegan Street to State Street, is 20 feet wide, verges on a steep slope south of it and has curbs on both sites. Even with parking on one side, traversing it can be a tight squeeze, especially when parked cars don’t hug the


Compounding that problem is several dwellings there serve as short-term rentals, increasing parking demand during busy summers. “Eleven years ago,” said Mark Klungle, who owns one of them, “we agreed to parking on only one side. No parking will cripple property owners.”

“I just heard about this 30 minutes ago,” said Christopher Huack of 730 Pleasant St. “I’ve never been in a city that didn’t give residents notice.”

Most homes on Pleasant have parking on their own driveways, but 649 Pleasant (pictured) doesn’t. A one-spot waiver was granted that dwelling.

Council discussed alternatives such has seasonal parking, which would not solve emergency-access problems during times it is allowed, and widening Pleasant when updated water lines are placed there. “That would cut into yards of homes on just one side,” Muncey noted.

“I appreciate the creativity,” Gardner said. “It’s hard finding a perfect fix.”

Leave a Reply