Bobby Patel, owner of Village Card and Gifts, said during busy times of year — like during the holidays or when school is in session — it is not uncommon to see cars blocking the fire lane in the parking lot of the Lindenwood Shopping Center.
About twice a year, he said there will be an accident because a driver might be going the wrong way.
Parking, misdirection and the need for better-drawn lines are some of the problems residents run into when using the lot, despite a strict policy from law enforcement on fire lane parking.
One Lindenwood resident said people parking in the fire lane can affect drivers trying to pull in or out of handicapped spots.
“For the senior citizens it’s not good,” he said, motioning toward a section of handicapped spots not far from the fire lane. The resident said he had witnessed several incidents in which an elderly person tried to get out of a spot but couldn’t because of someone parked in the nearby fire lane.
Police from the 106th Precinct are not allowed to enforce moving violations in the private parking lot, an NYPD spokesperson said. They are only allowed to ticket drivers for illegally parking in handicapped spots or in the fire lane. The number of calls for fire lane violations was undetermined but prominent, the spokesperson said. No matter the amount of time parked, or the reason, the spokesperson said, there is a zero tolerance policy for leaving a car in the fire lane, which runs the length of the strip mall.
The Lindenwood Alliance has recommended several options to better the parking situation, said Joann Ariola, president of the organization. One idea is to hire a private enforcement company to monitor the violations in the parking lot.
The center’s management company, Howard Plaza Realty, has been working with the civic group to address these concerns. Ariola said the company plans to repave the parking lot, put up more signs and make sharper lines for the fire lanes and parking spaces.
Joe Trotta, a manager at the company, said paving for the parking lot is planned for September, with new parking lines and one way arrows on the pavement.
“Hopefully with the paving and the new striping and the arrow directions will help to alleviate this problem,” he said.
Private enforcement, however, is not something the company has looked into at this time, Trotta said.
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder has also contacted the management company regarding the parking and direction issues in the shopping center. The shopping center was an ideal location that well-served the community, Goldfeder said, but the fading lines and signage needed to be corrected to avoid further problems.
“These problems are simple to fix and should be addressed as soon as possible,” Goldfeder said. “Owners and management at the shopping center have been great community partners and I am confident that they will do everything they can to ensure that shoppers are safe while visiting local stores.”
Calls to Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office and the Department of Transportation were not returned.
Despite getting ticketed, sometimes numerous times, Patel said some people get used to parking in the lane and continue to do so, no matter what.
“They don’t want to walk,” he said.