Saturday, October 30, 1999

Parking ramp gets royal treatment at opening

Parking ramp gets royal treatment at opening
Hundreds turn out for ribbon-cutting ceremony
The Ann Arbor News
By Pamela Appea

Most kings and queens only get a crown but the newly named king and queen of Ann Arbor will get free parking for a month at Ann Arbor’s new Fourth Avenue and Washington Street parking structure.

To celebrate the recently finished $9 million project, there was free food, speeches and prizes Friday evening as residents and city officials gathered to mark the opening of the new parking garage.

Judy Turner, manager for Discovery Toys, a home-based business and Steven Pellerito, program coordinator at the University of Michigan’s business school, won the titles of king and queen and the free parking.

Pellerito said he has tentative plans to donate his prize to charity while Turner said she can always use free parking space when dropping off or picking up one of her daughters for after-school events.

Organizers of the event said thousands of Ann Arborites sent in entry forms for free parking, a prize many Ann Arbor residents would covet.

“It’s been a big project and we’re glad it’s finally come to fruition,” said Mayor Ingrid Sheldon, who cut the ribbon to the parking structure after opening remarks from officials.

Hundreds turned out for the event. Many walked around the new parking structure to view a specially-arranged showing of 100 antique and classic cars.

Two protestors--a mother and a son--held signs saying that the Fourth Avenue and Washington Street parking structure doesn’t “allow” free parking for Courthouse Square residents next door.

Other residents of the two-year-old senior citizen facility said they’ve always known that they would have to use another Ann Arbor parking lot a few blocks away unless they wanted to pay extra parking fees. Daily parking will be $1.20 an hour.

“I understand how they feel. But it was explained to them (and us) a long time ago,” said Marilyn McDonnell, a lifelong Ann Arbor resident.

While greeting residents and dispensing car-shaped chocolates to children, Susan Pollay, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said parking at the structure is free of charge all day today and Sunday.

The seven-store building with 277 spaces has been built to last, she said.
“We have everything in it so that it will last 50 years,”

Peggy Geiger came to the event to see her cousin, Adrian Iraolla, project manager for the parking structure, get an award.

“I work (close by) so I’ve seen the construction taking place every day,” Geiger said. “I think it’s classy. I like the way it looks.”

Art work will be added to the outside of the parking structure after fundraising from private companies and individuals is completed.

Photo Caption: Judy Turner of Ann Arbor was named ‘Queen of the Structure’ during the grand opening of the Fourth and Washington parking Friday night.

Photo Credit: Lon Horwedel

Originally published Saturday, October 30, 1999