Gridlock over parking lot leaves disabled woman without a space

August 12, 1992|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

She had it and then she didn't. Then she had it again. And then she didn't again.

But the thing that frustrates Ann Czajkowski to tears is that she doesn't understand how she lost it in the first place.

Three and half years ago, Mrs. Czajkowski, 59, bought a condominium in the Community of Montgomery Run in the 8300 block of Montgomery Run Road. Due to a heart condition, she requested and received a handicap parking space in front of her home.

But about 18 months ago, workers at the condominium mislabeled the space, inadvertently assigning it to a neighbor.

"They marked the handicap space for condo C and my condo is G," Mrs. Czajkowski said. "My friend in condo C was letting me use her space for a while. But what were my chances that a man would buy my friend's condo and he would need the handicap space, too?"

That happened two weeks ago.

Her phone calls to the builders and the property managers to rectify the matter have resulted only in finger-pointing. County Councilman C. Vernon Gray now is trying to mediate the problem.

Larry Macks, vice president of Macks Homes, which built the condominiums, said, "We built Montgomery Run, but I think it's a condominium association issue. We don't own the property and we don't manage the property, so it's clearly and completely a condo board issue."

The vice president of the Montgomery Run board of directors disagrees.

"All we're getting is what's left from the builders," Roger Lash said. "We as a community didn't put the sign there and we didn't letter anything. It's not our problem.

"My opinion is the Czajkowskis should contact the builders to fix this problem," Mr. Lash added. "Technically, that's what the problem boils down to -- the builders."

Neither side has moved to correct the problem, saying they are unsure who put the sign up or who has the authority to take care of it.

But Mrs. Czajkowski's problem remains: no handicap parking space.

Mrs. Czajkowski said other residents park in her space at night, forcing her to park at the bottom of the hill. That wouldn't be so bad, she said, if she and her 65-year-old husband, Stanley, did not suffer from angina -- a condition marked by recurrent pain and caused by a sudden decrease of the blood supply to the heart muscle.

Both have trouble climbing the hill.

"You try walking up that hill with a heart condition," she said. "I climb up that hill, sit down on the porch, make a fool of myself and have a good cry because I'm breathing so hard.

"Then I climb up the steps to my condo," she added. "I just can't take it.

"I was talking to the president of the community association and I burst out crying," said Mrs. Czajkowski. "I told her I was so tired of fighting for something that was mine to begin with."

Her conversations with the Montgomery Run board of directors and the condominium builders have led her on a wild goose chase, she said.

"I don't want a confrontation, I just want my parking space," Mrs. Czajkowski said. "I went through so much paperwork to get it, and someone just took it away so easily.

She wrote several letters to the Macks Homes and the management company, Chesapeake Homes, to request the handicap sign.

She also took a stress test to qualify for a handicap permit and went to the Motor Vehicle Administration to apply for it, she said.

"I thought it would be a simple solution, like just changing the letters on the parking spaces. But the board of directors won't let me do it," she added. "I just don't know what to do anymore."

Mrs. Czajkowski is not fighting alone, however. After repeated requests to the board were unsuccessful, she contacted Councilman Gray.

Mr. Gray said he's trying to work through the board to resolve the problem.

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