City park­ing en­force­ment not a 9-to-5 oc­cur­rence

Lin­coln Street res­i­dent Fred Washko had his car tick­eted — at 1:15 in the morn­ing.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - LOCAL - By KELLY MONITZ Staff Writer kmonitz@stan­dard­speaker.com

Fred Washko of Ha­zle­ton found out the hard way that the city’s park­ing en­force­ment is around the clock.

He parked his ve­hi­cle in his Lin­coln Street drive­way a lit­tle too close to the curb in De­cem­ber, and park­ing en­force­ment is­sued him a ticket — at 1:15 a.m.

“We don’t have money for po­lice,” Washko said. “How do they have money for park­ing con­trol in the wee hours of the morn­ing? We have way more to worry about in this town.”

Charles Pedri, who over­sees the city’s code en­force­ment of­fice and spoke with Washko about the ticket, ex­plained that the city does have park­ing en­force­ment of­fi­cers out overnight.

He pointed to the case of a man who was run­ning a ware­house at Se­cond and Alter streets and would bring in trac­tor-trail­ers in the mid­dle of the night, block­ing Se­cond Street. The man was is­sued a no­tice of vi­o­la­tion, just as Washko was is­sued a park­ing ticket in front of his house, Pedri said.

In early De­cem­ber, a park­ing en­force­ment of­fi­cer was cred­ited with foil­ing an early-morn­ing car break-in. The city worker heard a car alarm at 4 a.m., went to­ward the sound, chased the sus­pect, or­dered him to stop and held him for po­lice, who ar­rested the 21-year-old.

Mayor Jeff Cusat said park­ing en­force­ment is han­dled 24 hours a day, not only by park­ing en­force­ment per­son­nel but by po­lice of­fi­cers, fire­fight­ers, code en­force­ment and de­part­ment of pub­lic works em­ploy­ees.

“Block­ing the side­walk is a safety vi­o­la­tion,” he said, adding that a per­son in a wheel­chair or push­ing a stroller would be forced to walk tra­verse the street and risk be­ing struck by a ve­hi­cle no mat­ter what time of day. “No one takes into con­sid­er­a­tion the hand­i­capped.”

Washko, who heard the ar­gu­ment that a wheel­chair wouldn’t get down the side­walk, found it ab­surd with the crime in town and thought money could be bet­ter spent.

The city has only four park­ing en­force­ment of­fi­cers, Cusat said, and three of them make less than $10 an hour and the other less than $15 an hour.

“It’s not an ex­pen­sive thing and it pro­vides for the safety of the peo­ple of the city,” the mayor said.

The of­fi­cer who tick­eted Washko ac­tu­ally works a float­ing shift, and is state- cer­ti­fied as fire po­lice, Cusat said. But it doesn’t mat­ter who is­sued the ticket or when, be­cause it’s still a safety vi­o­la­tion and the law needs to en­forced, he said.

“My job is to pro­tect the safety and well be­ing of the cit­i­zens in the city and en­force the laws on the books,” he said, adding that he has paid park­ing tick­ets as well as his brother and par­ents.

If the city doesn’t en­force the laws, peo­ple aren’t go­ing to be happy, and if the city does, some peo­ple, like Washko, aren’t go­ing to be happy, Cusat said.

Washko, who was given ex­tra time to re­view pho­to­graphs that park­ing en­force­ment took of his ve­hi­cle, paid the ticket.

STAN­DARD-SPEAKER FILE

A mo­torist gets a ticket from Ha­zle­ton City Park­ing En­force­ment while parked on Wy­oming Street.

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