The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 26, 2013

Parking near school posing a growing problem

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

FARRELL — Farrell officials heard from both sides in a debate over what to do with parking problems in the city.

Residents who live on Roemer Boulevard across from the Farrell Area School District campus came to Monday’s council meeting to ask for parking restrictions on the south side of the street.

A Wheatland resident who lives at the Farrell line came to complain about a ticket his wife recently received.

At issue, as City Manager Michael Ceci put it, isn’t a $5 parking ticket or a blocked driveway: “It’s a safety issue.”

“If we do nothing,” a student is going to be hurt in an accident, Ceci said.

”I do not want to be sitting here” if that happens, he said. “It’s a serious safety issue.”

The school has parking lots - but they’re behind the complex and increased security measures restrict entrance to the buildings to doors facing Roemer.

During school hours, parking is banned on the north side of the street alongside the school. On the residential south side, parking is allowed.

It’s those vehicles that are at issue. Residents say they belong to school employees, students and school visitors.

Some of those motorists block driveways and park on the sidewalks, the residents say.

”We can’t pull out of our driveway,” Lamont Hailstock said.

”It’s really a major problem up there,” added Councilman Eugene Pacsi.

”I pretty much back out of my driveway on blind faith,” said Rose Robinson.

The school district’s buildings and grounds director Dan Harkless attended the meeting and acknowledged parking is a problem.

”I do fully sympathize with the residents about the misuse of parking on the streets,” Harkless said. “I’m all in favor of enforcing the laws that are there.”

That means a fine of $5.

Council heard from one of the many people issued one of those $5 tickets for parking illegally.

Clark Howell, who lives on Emerson Avenue in Wheatland at the Farrell line, said his wife’s vehicle was ticketed by Southwest Mercer County Regional police for parking on the curb facing oncoming traffic - where they’ve been parking for 30 years.

Southwest Chief Riley Smoot said he directed police to issue tickets after warning scofflaws for the last few months.

”If we enforce this, we have to enforce it citywide,” Smoot said. “You can’t enforce one place,” and not another.

For Southwest, that means throughout Farrell, Wheatland, West Middlesex and Shenango Township.

Police issued parking tickets this weekend throughout the patrol area.

Howell’s complaint was met with sympathy by resident Frank Badalato, who happens to be the resident who first brought up the issue about the parking problems on Roemer.

Badalato said Howell’s vehicle should have been issued a warning before the actual ticket was issued.

Council will take up introducing an ordinance calling for more parking restrictions on Roemer during a special meeting April 9.