MAJOR UPDATE TO ORIGINAL STORY / THE ONLY PHOTOS: AP MAYOR’s SOLUTION TO BEACHFRONT PARKING ISSUES – FIND OUT WHAT A JUDGE SAID…
July 26, 2014 UPDATE: In January, TheBPlot and TheCoaster.net were the first to publish photos of Asbury Park Mayor Myra Campbell’s
“parkgate” parking challenges (article below). Last week, a Neptune Township Judge found the mayor – who continues to feel she was unfairly targeted – guilty of the parking infraction.
Even though, yet again, the good people at the Asbury Park Sun didn’t give us any credit (cry me a river, I know) for being the first to take the heat with the story, we still love them and wanted to share their report about the ruling and the mayor’s response… click here for the Sun’s story.
JANUARY 23, 2014: Images taken in December and January and obtained by TheBPlot and The Coaster last week show the Asbury Park Mayor – while conducting city business – has found her own solution to beachfront parking.
Mayor Myra Campbell has repeatedly parked on a pedestrian walkway, near a standpipe (fire hydrant) and at least once in front of an emergency exit for the Paramount Theater, Grand Arcade and Convention Hall.
“I was given a parking placard by the city as a perk of my role as mayor to use when on official city business that permits me to park in out-of-the-ordinary places,” said Mayor Campbell. “Have I passed by open parking spaces to park (on the sidewalk)? Yes. This is common practice for public officials around the nation, I think – nothing out of the ordinary. I have never, never, never parked in front of a fire hydrant.” [scroll for more]
An image shows the mayor’s vehicle parked on the pedestrian walkway during an event at Convention Hall. Another shows the mayor bypassing at least 20 available parking spaces on Fifth Avenue to park on the same walkway.
Two New Jersey Motor Vehicle statutes detail that at no time can anyone “drive a vehicle on or across” or “stand or park a vehicle… on a sidewalk.” Each violation is $44 for the first offense.
New Jersey Fire and Building Codes both require “immediate, clear and unobstructed access” to fire department connections. The codes additionally require exterior doors and openings of “assembly use” buildings always be “readily accessible” for emergency personnel and provide “direct and functionally clear access to a public way.” [scroll for more]
“The mayor’s parking is illegal and dangerous,” said a New Jersey licensed code official. “If there was an emergency, her car would be an impediment to emergency personnel and the public. The car on the sidewalk in front of the exit door could slow a evacuating crowd down and disorient them. Fire officials might have to work around her car. Basically, why park there when there are other options? She should know that ignorance of the law does not excuse the offense.”
Mayor Campbell said she was unaware of any parking issues related to her.
“No one, not the acting city manager, not the fire chief, not the chief of police – I have never been told it was inappropriate to park there,” said the mayor, after naming other officials in Asbury Park and nearby cities whom she believes park similarly. “I broke no law, there is no violation and there is no reason why I would be ticketed. I am not doing anything out of the ordinary.”
The mayor continued, “Every other councilman and (two other local city employees) – and I can also speak about any number of other (area) officials – take advantage of this special amenity during public business. Some cities have police drivers for their mayors. There are times I have three or four events in one day. For me to try to give as much of my time serving the public without this perk would be difficult. I can see this is the beginning of the political games in town.”
At least one city council member has declined use of the parking placard. A city official with a placard, who the mayor mentioned for this story said, “I park on the circular drop-off, which is exactly what she could have done and we suggested she do if necessary.”
Reaction from city residents and visitors was mixed Sunday afternoon.
“This is infuriating. I would like to know what (council members) John (Loffredo) and Sue (Henderson) say now about the person they believe should be called ‘mayor’. This reflects on them as much as her,” said a city resident.
“She is just another politician who thinks the rules don’t apply to her,” said Beth Curry, visiting the boardwalk Saturday, of the mayor. “But from what I hear, Asbury has bigger problems than this.”
What do you think? Have a tip or photos? Email: Richard@TheBPlot.com.
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