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Handicapped parking issues around downtown Wilmington

READ MORE: Issues with handicapped parking in downtown Wilmington
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Handicapped people face challenges every day, and a lack of handicapped parking spaces in downtown Wilmington does not help. Downtown Wilmington lost several of those spaces when Front Street went two-way about a year and a half ago. A handicapped Castle Hayne man contacted WWAY to help clear up some confusion about paying to park downtown. Jerry Errico of Castle Hayne depends on his wheelchair. He is still very independent, and like many people, likes to go downtown on the weekends. But when it comes to parking, it can get tricky. "My only choice was to either go into the parking garage or risk getting hit by a car trying to get my wheelchair out of my car," said Errico. Jerry chooses to park in the decks, which charge a flat rate of five dollars on the weekends. Ever since Front Street went two-way, handicapped drivers do not have to pay to park in downtown's metered spaces, since the construction eliminated some handicapped spots. But when Errico parks in the decks, and shows his handicapped placard, he gets charged. Errico said, "Since basically the mayor's traffic plan eliminated all the handicapped parking on the streets, I have no choice. I'm basically being forced to pay. I don't even have a choice in the matter anymore." He wrote to Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo on our Ask the Mayor segment and got this response: "If you do have a handicapped sticker or placecard, you can park anywhere in the city for free. An example would be the parking decks. We do have ADA handicapped parking spaces in those decks.” Errico said, "After I heard that, that same weekend, I went back downtown and confronted the guy in the booth at the parking area and he said he didn't know what I was talking about." WWAY tagged along with Errico one night to see first hand. He was asked to pay five dollars at the Market Street Deck and the Second Street deck. When asked about the mix-up, Mayor Saffo admits to misspeaking during the Ask the Mayor segment. It turns out everyone is required to pay to park in the decks, even the handicapped. There are several spaces for them inside the garages. But the mayor wants to change that, and says this is a topic he is passionate about. "I think it's only fair that we look at putting some free parking in the decks for folks that are handicapped, if not the entire deck. Then at least, the amount of spaces that we displaced on Front Street," said Saffo. Mayor Saffo asked his Committee for People with Disabilities to look into working with the Parking Advisory Committee to make recommendations to city council about changing the regulations.

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Handicap parking

North Carolina state statues and the federal ADA do not exempt handicap people from paying a fee. The City of Wilmington is giving those with a valid placard a blessing by not charging at a metered space in the city limits. In addition, the time limit is rescinded as well. The parking deck costs the city money to run. Especially, on weekend nights because of the additional security. That is why all spaces have a fee. As to all of those who participate in handicap fraud, no one group can totally monitor others poor choices. It is difficult to visually identify someone as having a disability because many suffer from an invisible disability, such as COPD. Handicap parking is a lose-lose situation because you can't please all the people all the time. For all those passing judgment, I have a son with CP who ambulates in a power wheelchair, so I am very familar with the difficulty of parking in this town. My vote is for universal design which takes ADA up to the technology that currently exists. Unfortunately, that requires more space.

handicapped parking

when oboomer takes office it'll be handicapped parking for everyone. spreading the wealth. you know wha i'm sayin!

I know there are laws that

I know there are laws that state there must so many handicap parking spaces available...I would think the city is falling within those limits. If they are, then there is no reason why handicap persons should be allowed to park in the decks for free while everyone else must pay.

I understand.

I understand, I park at the parking deck everyday or on the street everyday. I even have paid enough parking tickets to buy someone a new suv with a years supply of gas. It is hard for everyone to get a parking spot near where we are going but I don't know why an abled body and a person who is physically challenged should not pay the same for parking. I do have a form of MDA which is a challenge for my body, I could have a decal or placard but my vehicle does not require a certain space for a ramp to come down so I don't use a handicap space, nor do I use the placard. As long as my body is willing, I will walk, or wheel to my destination and pay the meter before I go. Have some pride and quite looking for handouts.

How do you get one of these placards?

I realize that their purpose is valid and admirable, I support handicap parking for the truly handicapped, but it's my impression that half of them have been given to people who have no disability beyond being immense, lazy, fat hogs. You can see them every day at the post office, where they are too lazy to park in the handicapped parking spots and face that unbearable fifty-foot walk. Instead, they choose to park in the fire lane at the curb and waddle ten feet to the door. (Of course, there are plenty of people parking in the fire lane without handicap placards too. No shortage of lazy slugs, is there? "Hey lady! You might get down to a size 16 if you'd park out in the lot and face that grueling death march.")

before they made the changes

before they made the changes downtown, they must have had a meeting to discuss the impact of the changes on local business and the surrounding community. Which means they Knew what they were doing, and they knew they could get away with it. Now, years later, when someone DID complain about it, they decide address the problem. Well, its too late now, whats done is done, and it ended up costing this guy in the wheelchair (and alot of other disabled people im sure) alot of money! They need to reimburse him before he starts a class action lawsuit and sues for MILLIONS!

Handicap parking

There are way too many people that use other people's handicap cards, there are people that get them they don't need them. Free Parking in the deck for handicap, will encourage more to violate handicap parking.

so what your saying is we

so what your saying is we should punish the entire disabled community because of a few dishonest people? thats not right, and you know it.

LOL

Well..I guess so..its kinda like punish the people that have succeeded in life to pay for those who didn't...its the same concept and unfortunately you get caught up in it! Again...I feel for the handicap..NOT THE LAZY BUTT who has a handicap tag that doesn't need it. I am not politically correct either...I recognize that handicap individuals are NOT EQUAL...like men and women are NOT EQUAL...its neither a good or bad thing...we are just different...PERIOD. I feel for you, but the system says you are equal...so you get equal types of treatment and screwed along with the rest of us.

Handicapped parking

Yes it is terrible to find spaces in the downtown area. My other comment is I tried to go to Riverfest and when I asked the young man that was blocking the street where the handicapped parking was he said he didn't know. I drove around for awhile and finally left. I know these young people are from the colleges but the people running Riverfest should let everyone know where these spaces are. Wouldn't it be a good thing to have a few parking areas just for handicapped parking?

Well...

THIS is what you get when you fight and want equal rights...YOU ARE EQUAL...and you can pay EQUAL amounts of money just like the rest of us!

try spending a day in a

try spending a day in a wheelchair before making stupid comments like that. we fought to have access to places everyone else can go, Handicapped parking allows people in wheelchairs easy access to these places. without them it would be alot harder to do things that YOU take for granted. Remember, its alot easier to walk across a parking lot to your car than it is to push a wheelchair to it!

Nope

I don't know what it is like...but I also recognize that you ARE NOT EQUAL...therefore I am/was willing to understand and overlook. The laws put in place by Clinton for the handicap are just plain overly STUPID! They state you are equal...THEN SO BE IT...again..pay equal fees...just because you are handicap shouldn't exclude you from the fees the rest of us pay!

Handi-parking

I should have added, LE needs to focus more, on handi-cap offenders, but it is more exciting to pull someone over in their car. Also, I know something about handi-cap people, my wife was for over 19 months, I know how it is to find a handi-cap park. She could not walk at all.