'Lazy' Commuters' Cars Have Neighbors Up In Arms

Odenton Road Block Fed Up By Train Riders' Parking Habits

June 19, 1991|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

The fourth day in a row that her mail wasn't delivered because an Odenton train commuter had parked in front of her mailbox, Michelle Pucci decided she'd had enough.

She called a county traffic engineer,who told her the west side of Odenton Road is a public street -- with unrestricted parking -- and nothing could be done.

She called the police, who sympathized but said the same thing.

She called the Maryland Rail Commuter service train people, who took down detailed information and said they were sorry.

And MARC commuters continued to park whenever and wherever they please.

Pucci and about a dozen other families who live on the west side of the train station say the parking problem has escalated within the last year.

Mailboxes are blocked, which for some senior citizens means Social Security checks are delayed, says Beulah Wade, 80, who lives two doors from the Puccis. The mailman will not deliver mail if a box is even partially obstructed, Wade says.

Front lawns are smashed by cars parking three feet into the grass to avoid being hit by other vehicles, says Monique Jones, whose apartment is on the very end of the street by the station.

Tish Lawson, another neighbor, says garbage collectors have complained that sometimes they can't squeeze through to pick up the trash.

Says Pucci, who lives four houses up from the station, "I feel like we're taxpayers trying to keep the street looking nice, and we shouldn't have to be inconvenienced because people are too lazy to walk another block and park in the (train) parking lots.

"You ask one commuter to move," she added, "the next day thereare two more in the same spot."

But as a police officer at the Western District explained, commuters have the right to park on a public road as long as they don't obstruct traffic and don't violate any applicable restrictions, such as parking near a fire hydrant.

"There's no law that says you can't block a mailbox," one officer said.

But the residents of this country street think there should be.

Last week, Pucci's husband, Andrew -- who has taken to patrolling his patch of lawn in the mornings -- approached a commuter and asked him not to park near his driveway.

The man responded, "So ------- sue me, ---- you. We pay taxes!"

The Puccis called the police, who said they would increase patrols of the area.

The county -- which plans to build a large commuter parking lot on the block behind the houses of the complaining residents -- counseled patience.

But nobody knows just when that lot will be built, nor do families such as the Puccis believe it will help.

"There's already plenty of room: two parking lots on either side of the train station and also a gravel lotcleared behind our houses," Pucci says.

In the meantime, some families tried tackling the problem themselves.

Several weeks ago, the Puccis received permission from the owner across the street to postan official-looking sign that announces: No Parking Anytime.

Neighbors also brought in several car-length logs to block the edge of their lawns, making it hard for people to park there.

Residents got together and bought orange traffic cones, but a week later the cones had disappeared or been thrown into nearby bushes, Pucci says.

Notmuch seemed to be helping.

Frustrated, Pucci called the county again, and this week a traffic engineer told her the neighbors may petition to make the street one with restricted parking.

Pucci is collecting signatures.

Says Anne Sieling, a county public relations spokeswoman, "We are working with the folks out there. We can only respond and put 'No Parking' signs after we receive their petition. As soon as we receive a petition, we'll post signs out there and then enforcement will be up to police."

Sieling said the restrictions will be "some kind of hourly arrangement; we're not sure what."

Wade, who has lived on the street all her life, says the trouble over commuters increased significantly during the last year.

"They annoy us terrible," she says. "Sometimes you can't even back out, the way they park. Lovely people live here, but these commuters . . . we've had it. They've got plenty of room, if they would go where they're supposedto."

Lawson says commuters generally will move if you ask them orleave notes on their cars.

"But you have to ask everybody. It's always somebody different, and the street is always blocked."

For Jones, the habits of some commuters are as bad as the vehicles they leave during the day. "They throw their trash out front, and my husbandkeeps going out to pick it up," she says. "They use our shrubs as a dump."

Adds Pucci, "There's plenty of room for people to park, butthey don't choose to do that; they're too lazy. They'd rather park directly in front of our mailboxes. They just don't care."

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