It is disturbing to see such little respect for accessible parking throughout The Valley. How can we profess to be a welcoming community when we do not make enforcement of the laws around accessible parking a priority?
One need never look too many times to finding people parking in the accessible spots at local businesses, in local shopping centers and elsewhere around our community.
Some people apparently feel that their need to pop into a convenience store for a snack or cup of coffee (“for a few minutes”) outweighs the very real need of someone in a wheelchair to exit their vehicle and access the accessible ramp.
Others are apparently simply blind to the clearly posted accessible parking spots at the local grocery stores.
Even more disturbing are instances where a businesses’ permits require a specific number of parking places including a specific number of accessible spots. One local business has removed not one, but two of its previously designated accessible parking spaces.
Now patrons who need that access have no way to access the ramp – period. There used to be two spots, then there was one and now there are none. That is unacceptable. Prior to the removal of the first and second signs, someone (without an accessible sticker or placard) regularly (seven days a week) parked in the spot closest to the ramp.
Another local business, during the height of COVID, took down the accessible parking sign and designated striped area for accessible vans to unload and set up an outdoor seating area. That’s great for those who can walk, not so great for those who might need access.
The parking offenses can only be enforced by law enforcement and the Vermont State Police have been repeatedly notified of many violations. The state police have their own staffing issues and need to be in The Valley at the right place and right time to write the tickets.
But towns could do more in terms of enforcing parking plans and making it a regular practice when issuing routine permits and licenses to ensure that businesses are respecting and protecting access for those who need it.
What kind of a welcoming community can we be if we don’t do that?