RED BANK: STORM BRINGS TICKET BLIZZARD

Oakland Street between Shrewsbury and Bridge avenues had a mix of vehicles that had been dug out, and others that were left untouched as of 6 a.m. Friday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A snowstorm that plopped about a foot of snow on Red Bank also prompted a blizzard of parking tickets Thursday and Friday.

Police issued a whopping 260 tickets during the storm, an apparent one-day record, police Chief Darren McConnell tells redbankgreen.

That’s about two and a half times the number of $38 citations written in comparable past storms, McConnell.

The blitz, he said, was a reflection of the borough council’s passage last year of an ordinance amendment that expanded a ban on parking during snowstorms to all borough streets. Previously, the ban applied to about two dozen streets considered essential for emergency service, he said.

“It wasn’t intended to generate revenue or punish people,” McConnell said. “It’s about getting 100-percent compliance, or as close as possible” to allow Department of Public Utility plows to clear streets curb-to-curb without having to make repeated, and costly, return trips, he said.

Moreover, police and Office of Emergency Management personnel went to extra lengths to warn vehicle owners, McConnell said. In addition to sending out two alerts via the the borough text-and-phone  notification system, police went door-to-door with fliers in neighborhoods where narrow streets and parked cars have presented problems for snowplows in the past, he said. OEM director Tommy Welsh also got on a loudspeaker from his vehicle to announce a request that cars be moved.

Those warnings appear not to have worked, given the number of tickets and the fact that few vehicles were left during the storm in municipal parking lots, where motorists without access to off-street parking are advise to stow them.

Vehicles left on streets “makes every facet of the cleanup more difficult,” said Councilman Mike Whelan, who serves as police commissioner. “People have to realize that we want the streets done as quickly and efficiently as possible. But it’s also about safety.”

Most of the violators wouldn’t know immediately that they’d been cited. Police use an e-ticketing system, and violation notices were expected to go out in the mail Friday, McConnell said.

“We’re hoping this is a one-time record-breaker,” McConnell said.

 

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