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.


BC said...
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BC said...
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Anonymous said...

Has the City of Middletown become a Police State? The Police Chief has sole authority and she uses it! Let's change this.

Anonymous said...

People are starting to ask "do we live in a police state?" - Chief Baldoni has sole authority over parking issues and has abused her power.

Anonymous said...

Police Chief Baldoni has made it impossible for residents along Long Hill Road to have guests at their homes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., by eliminating parking on the west side of the road. Watch out, Middletown--she may have her eye on your narrow residential street!

Anonymous said...

By eliminating parking on Long Hill Rd., because it is "not wide enough", Police Chief Lynn Baldoni has now put the taxpayers of Middletown in the position of possibly having to pay for widening Long Hill Rd. It would be much less expensive to simply repaint the west curb black and return our parking to us!

BC said...

Wow! Is this the biggest issue in M'town?

Okay, I've been a resident for too many years to count and a visitor for the past few decades. My basic philiosophy is that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Can it be true that the biggest issue in my ole hometown is about parking on a street that resembles in size - oh so many others in town? What does the police department do for the rest of the day - worry about whether or not children are getting enough of their Halloween candy?

As a resident, street parking was essential in order to have guests that numbered more than those that fit in one car. As a visitor, we have no options if this is taken away. Does anyone remember that this is a planned community? Does anyone remember that covenants are filed with town records and have dictated the way this has been run for so many years? Does anyone other than one person have issue with keeping things the way they are? Is this about ego, power or the notion that this neighbor doesn't have enough friends to care? Is there a potential conflict of interest here?

Maybe if this wasn't turned into such a ridiculous focus, this naysayer would have more friends and need the street parking! This would allow the police to focus on extremely more important criminal issues - and visitors would feel welcomed and comfortable while visiting this lovely, well groomed and maintained neighborhood without needing a cab to bring family, luggage and pets onto Long Hill Road. Yah think?

Anonymous said...

The Grinch has struck again--this time in the guise of Lynn Baldoni, Middletown Police Chief, who has stolen not just Christmas, but also Thanksgiving and all other family celebrations and gatherings. She did this by taking away our right to park in front of our homes, on the west side of Long Hill Rd. in Middletown. Now we have almost no space for guests to park. Chief Grinch, how can you sleep at night, after taking away much of the social life of about 200 families?