Northwood police, who have stepped up enforcement of a law that prohibits parking on the grass, recently got an earful from some residents who thought the law should be repealed.
Audrey Caligiuri, of Ravenwood, thought police should spend their time investigating more serious crimes instead of enforcing a parking ban on grass.
“I really think the officers do a very good job protecting our city. I don’t really think their job should be to come onto people’s property and tell them what they can and can’t do on their grass, which they maintain and the city does not,” Caligiuri said at a council meeting last month.
It was her understanding, she added, that the law was passed so police could more easily disband noisy and unruly parties.
“If there was a car parked in the yard, it would give police an extra boost to disband the party, which makes sense, if that is what it was intended for. But we have people who have had police officers going up to them and directing them that they cannot park on grass that is on city property, on the side of the sidewalks. So now we have them parking in the street, which - according to the ordinance, since there is no curb - is illegal. I personally feel there are other issues in Northwood. I’m not sure where this is coming from. But it really says to me I think we need them out there doing other jobs. Considering the fact we pay a property tax for our property, and if we should choose to park on our grass, you shouldn’t be told to move your vehicle because you’re on your grass,” said Caligiuri.
She also said it is costly for some residents to add stone to their properties so they can park there.
“If we have elderly people who live on these streets, and they are told they have to put stone there because it’s ok to park there if you put stone there, who’s going to incur the cost of stone? I’ve lived in Northwood for almost 54 years. I don’t think people are abusing parking on the street. But I really think there are more important things that police could be doing versus giving people warnings,” she said.
Caligiuri said she has not violated the ordinance because she has stone in the front of her yard. Rather, she is speaking up for others who have been affected by the law, which she said needs to be readdressed by council.
“Let the police officers protect our city and not dictate our property,” she said.
Wally Rush, of Sheffield, agreed.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years. I’ve always put one of my vehicles out front when I have company. It was stone underneath the grass when I moved there and I used to park there. Grass has grown through the stone. I keep it cut. But I still put my vehicle out there. I was told on July 3 by a policeman who knocked on my door that I could no longer park there. He said if I have stone, I can park there. I told him, `What looks better, stone or grass growing up through the stone?’ and he said `Those are my orders. I’m just a messenger.’ Rush said the officer further told him that it was council who wanted the law enforced.
Kimberly Grames, planning, zoning and economic development coordinator, told The Press after the meeting that her office does not issue citations against residents who violate the law that bans parking on the grass.
“It’s actually enforced under the police code,” she said.
Police Chief Tom Cairl told The Press on Wednesday that the law, passed in 2004, states that parking is prohibited on private property unless it is on stone, asphalt or concrete. “It’s been in effect for a period of time,” said Cairl.
Former Councilman Rick Radoci had asked Mayor Mark Stoner last year to step up enforcement of the law, said Cairl.
“We’re seeing more and more people doing it. It’s more dry than normal this summer, and people will park on the grass. Parking is one of the biggest issues we seem to get,” said Cairl.
“I don’t want to ticket people,” he added. “What we’re trying to do is educate them by giving them a copy of the ordinance. What they’re doing is a violation of our ordinances and we try to get them to change their ways. If they don’t want the ordinance, they’re going to have to come to council and get council to change the ordinance. These people came and voiced their opinion. But I haven’t heard anything from council about looking at the ordinance again. We have an ordinance. Let’s try to live with it.”