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Why Is Croton So Selectively Enforcing Its Laws, Mr. Mayor?

July 8, 2007

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After Crotonblog posted the latest in the Just Askin’ series in which we questioned the propriety of the village enforcing parking rules established by the owners of the Van Wyck shopping center, we received a tip from a loyal reader that the village was performing the same service at the privately owned parking lot at Croton Commons. Accordingly, on Saturday morning we decided to bike down to Croton Commons to check out the tip. Sure enough, our informant was correct. Croton’s traffic officer is indeed ticketing the cars of motorists who violate parking rules set by the owners of Croton Commons.

On the way to Croton Commons, Crotonblog passed the nearby strip mall whose nightmarish parking was the subject of an earlier Just Askin’ feature. This time around we found a large, maroon-colored pickup truck straddling the sidewalk. It is even common to find cars and trucks parked on the strip mall’s sidewalk when parking spaces are open—forcing pedestrians into traffic. Later, a large gray pickup truck and a small white SUV blocked the sidewalk although parking spaces were available.

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At Croton Commons we questioned Croton’s traffic officer and asked her why she was not ticketing violators of the village law that forbids parking on sidewalks. She responded that tickets she had written in the past for parking on the strip mall’s sidewalk “had been thrown out.”

She added that she no longer tickets parking violations at the strip mall because the owners had not asked the village to do so! If asking is all it takes, Crotonblog has a long list of services it would like the village to perform for us. The first item: It can stop drivers who pull into Crotonblog’s driveway in order to turn around. The village has our permission to do this.

Croton’s traffic control officer earns $44,034 a year plus generous benefits. Even if only half of her time is spent writing tickets for violations of parking rules established by private owners, this represents a rather large chunk of taxpayer monies diverted to supplying police service to shopping malls. Other communities, perhaps more interested in keeping taxes low, do not provide services that merchants should more properly pay.

Crotonblog has been electronically publishing the feature titled Just Askin’ for several weeks, but the conditions it has been reporting have gone unacknowledged and unanswered by village officials. From now on, in addition to posting this feature, Crotonblog will start e-mailing the text to Croton’s mayor and to each of its trustees. If that doesn’t bring these important matters to their attention, our next step may be to resort to mailing certified letters to each of them. Still askin’.

See also:

On July 19, 2007 9:15 AM, waffels said:

I think if you ask around, the owners of these available properties, I bet, are either “moving” up taking advantage of a good resale value based on purchase or moving because of work, retirement but not because they are “getting” out of Croton. This is a beautiful community, taxes are high as they are in most communities. Croton is pretty much built out so developement to off set taxes is out. The little development discussed on this blog would hardly make a dent in the tax base of this community. Any found money from that would be used to help run the village I doubt if our taxes would go down. This village needs to get clever on how to bring dollars in. Metro Enviro was a perfect example of taking advantage of an opportunity for the coffers. Almost 1 million a year was going to be coming to this village from fees with full control of operations and potential fines for any mis-step. The current majority on the thrown marched at the train station crying to keep the rats and roches out of our village. As I have said many times the railroad produces more pollution, noise, debris than ME ever had or would have. Well now they need to get clever and figure out how to bring money in so we can maintain the tax base where it is. I think a million/high six figures would have helped plenty. Sorry got a little off track but……..

On July 19, 2007 1:02 AM, croton_guy said:

I’m not defending anyone. I have been guilty of parking in the same spot as pictured. Is it right or wrong? Don’t know for sure, probably wrong, but I can tell you it’s not worth the time debating.

If we keep pushing for greater enforcement of petty things - eventually you won’t be able to do much of anything without a knock on your door from a friendly Croton PD Officer.

Then of course, the tables would turn and they would be in the wrong, not us.

Isn’t that how it usually works?

I drive, bike and walk around town quite a bit. I see many things that should be addressed, things concerning our safety and future as a community, and aside from people wrongly parking in handicapped and fire zones, I don’t get stressed about parking. What alarms me is the growing number of properties - residential and commercial - for sale here. It’s such a great Village but we are making it harder and harder to survive here.

Let’s be mindful of what we ask for!

On July 13, 2007 4:52 PM, waffels said:

croton-guy…..when the cyclist is 6 years old walking with his or her mother pushing his or her baby sister in a stroller it is….within the law….what is your interest in this….you are defending something…..please do tell….

On July 13, 2007 2:24 PM, croton_guy said:

waffels,

Bicyclists are not suppost to be on sidewalks to begin with - it is a law.

As for walkers, I agree they should be able to walk on our sidewalks, but take a look around town, there is miles of broken, uneven and missing sidewalk that makes it almost impossible to enjoy a loop around town without stepping on to the street.

On July 13, 2007 8:39 AM, waffels said:

Croton-Guy……It just doesn’t work there. If you are kid riding your bike or someone with a stroller and one of those truck comes flying into the lot and parks on the sidewalk it is dangerous. There is no order and there needs to be especially with regards to autos and traffic and pedestrians. There needs to be parking and there needs needs to be pedestrian access. There is an effort to make the village more friendly to foot and pedal travellers. This kind of stuff needs to be attended to. The dangers far outweigh the need to give the parking enforcement a break.

On July 12, 2007 11:54 PM, croton_guy said:

Looking at the two trucks in question, I would imagine they both parked there because the spots in that lot are short. Parking any pickup or even a bigger SUV is risky because they stick out into the lane of traffic.

In all honesty, as someone who walks and bikes on that strip, I would just go around them.

The Police and the Parking and Code Enforcement Officers are busy enough. If people start getting carried away with parking to the point it hinders traffic or emergency vehicle operations, then let it be.

Constant enforcement of silly things like this could hurt the already struggling businesses of Croton.

Just drive along South Riverside and see all of the unoccupied businesses scattered about. We need small businesses here to keep this little village afloat.

Just my $.02.

On July 10, 2007 9:06 AM, weewill said:

I don’t want to get started on illegal signs, but it’s worth noting that the blue and white, free standing “Journal News sold here” sign in the first picture above is illegal. No ticket needs to be written. The code enforcement officer just needs to pull it out of the ground as he passes by !

On July 9, 2007 10:55 PM, KWilly said:

1) It was only one time where Richard Pellici Mentioned the Community Garden at the Village Board Meeting. He has been doing a great job with it and im glad he has been doing something where he is using his energy into something we all like.

2) Im not sure we should be pointing the finger at Mayor Schmidt just yet. After all the village board is not supposed to micromanage, they are supposed to set policy. Richard Herbek is the one who should be taking the questions now.

Kevin Davis

On July 9, 2007 6:38 PM, waffels said:

what about getting Richard Pellicci on the case and he can beautify the median on either side of the sidewalk….He lets us all know how hard he works on the gotwald circle median why not this one…plenty of exposure to fluff up for his board meeting appearences.

On July 9, 2007 6:23 PM, TeaDrinker said:

So after all the chatter, how about those cars that block pedestrian access at the strip mall in the photos…?

Will the village issue tickets to them in the future or will it continue to ignore its own law prohibiting parking on village sidewalks?

On July 9, 2007 6:09 PM, BCCroton said:

I did on several occasions see this happen, people park and start walking. Once I know another store owner called the landlord who sent a tow company to take the perps car away. Again as a shop keeper if the lot is full with people shopping in the center it’s a drag for the spot looker but great as a shop keeper. Also the ticket officer patrols all of the shopping center parking lots for fire lanes and handicap, that is easy big big money…..Michael Grant-Black Cow

On July 9, 2007 4:03 PM, Gut-C said:

I don’t know how many drivers were parking in the black cow parking lot before tickets were issued and walking to the train station - I think many jumped on the bus that stops across the street and paying the $2.00 bus fare. Also, doesn’t the traffic enforcer also ticket in Shoprite’s lot? I’ve seen her patrol there many times…..?

On July 9, 2007 11:02 AM, BCCroton said:

as an owner of one of the businesses in question it was a problem with commuters and the village patrolling the lot and ticketing did help considerably. I found out after receiving several tkts. myself that there are statutes on the NYS transportation books, I believe, that allows a private owner to illicit the resources of the local municpality to enforce parking in a lot. I have to believe that the village makes a ton of money on the tickets also. If anyone is a fiscally responsible citizen I bet that you look at the ticketing revenue from these two centers and it is substantial. It’s a catch 22 for me in that I have spent almost $400 since the new monitoring, for employees that didn’t have their ID’s posted on their windows due to new employment. I just hadnt gotten them yet and the village usually gives a warning the first time. Being a lovable scatter brained small business owner I didn’t act quick enough or my lovable scatterbrained employee didn’t tell me because it was just a “warning”. Also, they have laxed off dramatically since the beginning. Now the tkt. officer doesn’t get out of her car to chalk tires, and pretty much just monitors the employee, fire and handicap spots. It keeps the parking lot free of long term parkers but it’s an annoyance to the occasional parker that gets caught. And as a business owner if the parking lot is full that’s good for me because it means the center is full of people. Hard on the peole that want a spot but good for the business owners. I have been keeping a little tally lately of cars throughout the day to see now that the lax ticketing. is on, if maybe the commuters got savy. It was a real problem a few years ago. I think also that people generally think that if they can’t park right in front of their desired place then there is no parking. I know people that park up on Van Cortland Place to run into the van wyck center when it looks busy just to avoid the chaos. Maybe not a bad idea as spill over and enjoy the walk…. Michael Grant…….Black Cow

On July 9, 2007 8:51 AM, weewill said:

I never believed commuters would “walk that distance” either but cldearly they did. There was at least one “group” using a clever car pooling system from Van Wyck as well as many, many lone cars parked there and at Commons all day long.. Drivers shared the cost of 1 RR parking space and car pooled from the VanWyck lot. They then divided the cost of the RR parking fee between the members.

And yes, some chose to park on “the street in other residential areas” closer to the station. Before the 2-hour parking limit was enforced, there were numerous complaints from homeowners (and taxpayers) on those streets complaining of not being able to find a parking spot in front of their own homes.

This is not an argument for or against the village enforcement at these locations. I simply point out the difficulties of no enforcement.

Georgianna

On July 8, 2007 8:49 PM, Just The Facts said:

I cant really believe that commuters would walk that distance. If a commuter was trying to skip the parking fees, don’t you think they would park in the Shop Rite lot or on the street in many other residential areas that are closer?

The real question is whether or not the ticket revenue generated from these tickets pays for the pro rata share of the officer’s $60k or so of cost.

There was a lot of debate from people on this blog a couple of months ago whether or not the town actually made money from the commuter lot, as Leo’s great article indicated they do. SImilar analysis should be made here.

On July 8, 2007 2:19 PM, crotonres said:

If parking at these lots, via people using it for commuting, then the owners of the shopping centers should get people towed who park there and not go shopping. I find it troubling that town resources are being used for what is really the shopping center’s problem. If people cannot find a spot they won’t shop there so it is in the owners interest to police their own property. If this is such a huge problem the landlords should hire private security to patrol the lots and get people towed.

On July 8, 2007 12:02 PM, weewill said:

Just a word of caution about what happened before the village began to ticket cars at both VanWyck and The Commons before the village and owners agreed on a 2-hour maximum parking limit (in some spaces only 15 minutes).

Commuters and others were parking their cars there all day long and walking or taking the bus to the railroad station. It was an easy way to beat the parking fees at the RR station.

If you think it’s tough to find a parking space in those spots now, think back to the impossiblity of ever finidng a parking space before ticketing began!

Georgianna



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