Officials complain about near-accidents, blocked access
By LOHR McKINSTRY ELIZABETHTOWN — Don't even think about parking badly at the Essex County Government Center.Because of some drivers taking up two spaces, blocking parking lots and parking off the pavement, the County Sheriff's Department will be tagging violators.County Transportation Coordinator Nancy Dougal said parking issues abound at the county complex due to lack of spaces."We have brought a ride-share program up on the county Web site where people can put their names in and maybe find somebody to share a ride with, whether it be to the county or any other place."She said some groups are carpooling now.Deputy sheriffs had to be called recently when someone parked blocking the trash bin at the Stewart's Shop next to the county lot, County Manager Clifford Donaldson Jr. said."There was a problem with people parking in different places, across the crosswalk and whatever. I did issue a memo saying that anyone who was caught parked illegally would be towed at their own expense, and that is being enforced in conjunction with the sheriff."He said the County Public Works Department is making signs that will warn people that those parking illegally at the county complex will be towed."We were having people who were being literally blocked in having to back out into traffic. It seems now that people are parking where they should except the other day one who parked in front of Stewart's garbage bin. We had a deputy handle that."(We) made sure that people park where they are supposed to, and if they don't they will be towed, and they will be charged for the towing."County Department of Social Services Commissioner John O'Neill said the problem got so bad in the lot near his office that he had to speak out."It is very dangerous over there, and we are just lucky that somebody hasn't been hurt. If anybody has been over there and tried to drive through, you see the chaos that we are talking about."He said he expects to see more crashes in the street if the problem isn't solved."I don't know how many of them are employees, but it seems to be a chronic problem. The real danger is when somebody pulls in and then has to back out into traffic. There have been many near misses."Supervisor Ronald Jackson (R-Essex) said people are parking all over the place because there is no other place to park."The root cause of the problem is we don't have enough parking spots. It certainly helped moving the Social Services cars down to Mental Health (lot), but I don't know if there is some other place that we can get for parking. The problem is not that people are parking illegally; they are parking illegally because there is no other place to park."Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said the answer might be to run a shuttle bus for county workers."I don't know if there is a lot available somewhere that we could lease for county parking and then do a shuttle bus to the county complex. If there was a vacant lot somewhere within a mile away, that might be one of the solutions to the problem, a short-term solution."