Illegal parking at dangerous Mt. Airy intersection concerns residents

 Immediately after the meeting adjourned, several attendees walked down W. Mt. Airy and Germantown avenues. There were no less than four vehicles illegally parked at the intersection at that time. (Daniel Pasquarello/for NewsWorks)

Immediately after the meeting adjourned, several attendees walked down W. Mt. Airy and Germantown avenues. There were no less than four vehicles illegally parked at the intersection at that time. (Daniel Pasquarello/for NewsWorks)

The Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch discussed the dangers of illegal parking at Germantown and W. Mt. Airy aves. during its meeting Thursday night.

West Mt. Airy Avenue intersects with Germantown Avenue as a one-way street. Parking on Germantown Avenue is such that it is nearly impossible for drivers making a turn onto Germantown Avenue from W. Mt. Airy Avenue to see oncoming traffic if there are cars parked along Germantown Avenue to the right or the left of the intersection.

It is the Town Watch’s concern that many drivers persist in using those spaces — not marked for parking — for short-term parking and loading/unloading.

“What does it take, an accident, a death? And the city will monitor the intersection after the fact?” asked Steve Stroiman, coordinator of the town watch. “I think there needs to be some way for drivers choosing to park in these spaces, which clearly are not available for safety reasons, to be held accountable for their actions.”

Police respond

Capt. John Fleming of the 14th District offered to ensure that officers make regular patrols of that section of Germantown Ave.

“We can only ticket the vehicles of drivers in the act of committing a violation at that time. Unless the violation occurs in our presence, this is a hard thing to enforce,” added Officer Joseph Gomes.

To that end, Fleming also encouraged residents to call 911 and report instances of illegal parking at the intersection. Now that most city radio cars are equipped with a computer, officers can identify an incident occurring in the PSA to which he or she is assigned and respond immediately.

“In the past, an officer might have come to a meeting like this and said, ‘I listen to police dispatch and go where I am needed.’ But now, officers can monitor calls to 911 from their cars,” said Fleming. “I think that with constant enforcement, or the threat of enforcement, we should see a reasonable response from drivers.”

A larger problem?

Greg Beetle, a longtime resident of W. Mt. Airy Avenue and a bartender at McMenamin’s Tavern, questioned the effectiveness of the police department’s proposed enforcement strategy.

“This is a systemic problem,” said Beetle. “These aren’t no parking zones; they’re no stopping zones. Everything that happens at this intersection is a problem. Lack of enforcement has to be playing a part here.

“The sightlines are so compromised on this entire stretch of the Avenue on our side that there is good reason why no vehicles should ever park at that intersection.

Fleming responded that he would alert the Philadelphia Parking Authority about the specific illegal parking issues at the intersection.

“If nothing else, and as a last resort, I will have a truck drop off a couple barricades to block vehicles from parking there,” he said. “Another possible response is to propose making the intersection a tow-away zone.”

Also in attendence was policy advisor to Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, SEPTA representatives Rochelle Culbreath and Robert Shirley.

The PPA did not respond to requests from Stroiman that a representative attend the meeting.

Immediately after the meeting adjourned, several attendees walked down W. Mt. Airy and Germantown avenues. There were no less than four vehicles illegally parked at the intersection at that time.

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