Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Ticket us all!
The folks on Long Hill Road are not happy, and they brought their concerns to the Public Safety Commission meeting Monday night.
Several residents from Long Hill Rd addressed the committee about a parking controversy that they claim is two years old.
The stretch of Long Hill Road which fronts condominiums between Wesleyan Hills Road and Brush Hill Road has been declared off limits for parking on either side of the thoroughfare. The no parking zone is now marked by yellow lines on both sides of the road, and tickets are regularly issued to any and all who test the parking ban.
The residents complain that until recently, parking was allowed along one side of the road, and that the recent parking ban has caused hardships during visits from family and friends. Several of these residents linked the parking ban with the arrival of Police chief Lynn Baldoni as a resident in one of the condos.
"As far as comments about this happening because I live there, I resent those comments," Chief Baldoni said forcefully. "They are not true. I'm doing my job. This is not an overnight decision. In my opinion it's a safety issue. The street is not wide enough to support parking."
According to the chief, ticketing began after complaints to a district officer about parking. Once safety studies were completed, the chief, as the ultimate parking authority by state statute, decided that parking had to be banned or the city was unnecessarily exposed to liability in case of an accident.
These explanations did not satisfy Long Hill Road residents. Louise Astin called it "selective enforcement," considering the many narrow roads in town.
"We ask for little, but we've lost much," she said. "We can no longer have our families over. In over 30 years there has not been one parking accident. The simple solution is to paint the curbs black again."
Resident Bill Arrigoni asked, "Why are we being singled out when you can go to many streets in Middletown and find the same problem. Ticket us, but ticket Vine Street. Ticket Broad Street. Ticket, ticket, ticket. Then we'll all be happy."
Baldoni countered by saying that "I don't think anyone in this room expects us to put a yellow line on every curb, on every street in the city."
When asked by commission member, Vinny Loffredo, why after all these years, parking is now banned, the chief explained that once her department discovers a problem, she must act in accordance with the law, and doesn't have lenience to do otherwise. The chief reported that to allow parking on one side, road width needs to be a minimum of 29 feet, and that Long Hill is 24 feet wide at its widest, and 21 feet wide at its narrowest.
The commission decided to ask the Public Works department if a sheath coat of blacktop could extend the road over buried utilities to provide for more parking. They also indicated they had no authority to ask the chief of police to do anything but what she had decided to do.
High School Fire Lane
In other business, the Fire Department reported on enforcement of a fire lane at the new high school. In the first months of school, the fire lane has been blocked by parents dropping off and picking up their teenagers. Commission members deemed the issue a "management" problem at the high school and suggested that those in charge at the school find alternative areas for pickup and dropoff.
Round Hill Road
Residents also complained about a hazardous curve on Round Hill Road, where it was reported at the meeting, a city snow plow was "lost" during a storm a few years back. "Shame on us," commission chairman Robert Santangelo mused when he heard about the plow accident two years ago, and considered that the problem still existed. The commission voted to recommend immediate attention to the issue by the Public Works Department.
Asbestos Removal at Dispatch Headquarters
Fire chief Gary Oulette that asbestos removal, and the problems with solvent irritants which sent dispatchers to the hospital for treatment, was complete. He indicated that the catalyst for the complaints was an adhesive used to contain affected areas. When asked what the service interruption cost the city, Oulette estimated that between overtime and equipment costs, the total is well over $10,000. The cost for the original asbestos abatement was $11, 385.
Incident on Fountain Avenue
In reviewing the report issued by the Police Department on the controversial clash of student and police after a Wesleyan party on Fountain Avenue, Chief Baldoni, and Deputy Chief McMahon explained the proper use of Tazers, pepper balls and other "less-lethal" enforcement techniques. Commission member Thomas Serra suggested that the city follow a resolution passed in 1990 which requires a monthly meeting between the city, represented by the mayor, the majority council leader, the minority council leader, the president of Wesleyan, the student assembly leader and a member of the public.