“What’s good for one, has to be good for the other.”
That was John Cascell’s message to City Council. Cascell was speaking about the parking situation on Douglas St. in the city, an issue that came under fire during the public comment portion of Council’s Monday night meeting.
According to Cascell’s explanation, residents on Douglas St. were recently ticketed by City Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall for parking illegally. It seems that residents had parked their cars half on the grass, half in the roadway, which is illegal.
The problem, according to Cascell, is that residents have been parking this way for years, with never a peep from the City about it. What’s more, he says, is that fans park on the grass up-and-down both sides of Douglas St. during Muckdogs baseball games in the summer – and not one of them is written a ticket.
“And nobody cares that they do it,” Cascell tells WBTA. “I lost my parking privileges on Bank St. because of the ball park – I park my car over on Douglas sometimes.”
At the meeting, Cascell asked the council if the strict enforcement on Douglas St. would begin applying to the entire city, “or do we just get the brunt of the situation this time?”
Homeowner Barbara Shephard was the resident ticketed for the illegal parking. She expressed resentment that, after living there since 1960, it’s come down to something she sees as nitpicky.
“(The city) is telling us that what a parkway is, is grass…or stone (between the road and sidewalk),” she said. “And we can’t park in that parkway at all? We have to park in the road? It’s ridiculous.”
Shephard’s problem stems from her short driveway, which she says was built too small to park two vehicles in. Either her car or her husband’s must be parked in the roadway.
But Shephard maintains that Douglas St. is so narrow, that if cars legally park with four wheels in the road, on both sides of the roadway – no vehicle will be able to navigate down the middle.
“I don’t know what you’re thinking,” she told council. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Relative Mark Shephard got a bit more heated with the council.
“Leave it alone – now. And if you don’t: at the next meeting, I’m gonna be here,” Shephard sternly told the council. “Oh yeah. I’m gonna be here again, and I’ll be here all the time. Leave them alone, you understand?” Shephard’s stern delivery prompted Council President Marianne Clattenburg to ask Police Chief Randy Baker whether Shephard’s statements constituted a threat. When the Chief replied that they did, Clattenburg banged her gavel and cut Shephard off.
During council’s response, Councilman Frank Ferrando pointed out that many of the homes and streets in Batavia were built in the late 19th and early 20th century – long before the car became a vital part of American life.
“They weren’t built to accommodate what we have to accommodate in modern times,” Ferrando said. He recommended that the council include city parking needs in its vision for the future, or run the risk of “going backwards.”
“If we want to grow – and I hope we do – then we’re going to have to start accommodating these areas of our community,” he said.
Councilwoman Patti Pacino admitted to parking in those areas for Muckdogs’ baseball games, and wondered aloud if the cost for replacing or expanding a private driveway was reasonable. At that point, Marianne Clattenburg recommended the matter for discussion at a future conference meeting and ended council responses.
City Manager Jason Molino has taken the matter under advisement. It will go before council for discussion at a future conference meeting.
UPDATE (Tuesday, 2:05pm): Full audio of Mark Shephard's comments available here