Parking violation penalties stiffened at Smith[MIGRATE]
By Pfc. Ethan Hoaldridge
| June 29, 2007
If drivers continue to ignore current parking laws and antiterrorism force protection regulations here, they will face stiffer parking violation penalties.
The recent demolition, construction and renovation projects of the headquarters building have put a strain on nearby parking spaces, so service members have begun parking illegally to avoid long walks up and down hills to work every morning.
“We initially asked [the military police] to be lenient with parking on base because of the construction, but personnel started blocking roadways with their vehicles and parking in fire lanes causing safety violations,” said Col. Cosmas R. Spofford, commanding officer of MARFORPAC Headquarters & Service Battalion.
Federal regulations require that safety and Antiterrorism / Force Protection measures be maintained at all times.
“We understand that parking has become an issue and we’re working to resolve that, but we still have to maintain safety and meet ATFP standards,” said Spofford. “So we initiated a ‘ticket campaign’ to get back in order.”
The first day of the campaign netted 96 tickets and by the fourth day, the number of tickets dropped to 38, according to Spofford. The message is being communicated.
Further action against repeat offenders will include towing.
“We’re not trying to harass anybody,” he said. “But people are in for a rude awakening, if they think we’re not serious.”
Recovering a towed vehicle can cost up to $300.
To relieve parking restraints, the parking lot behind the newly completed walkway will be doubled in size.
“There’s plenty of parking on base, so we ask that personnel use good judgment and refrain from illegal parking,” said Spofford.
Fire lanes, yellow curbs and red curbs mark areas restricted from parking. Parking in the grass is also restricted.
“A parking space is defined as two white lines on either side of your vehicle,” said Master Sgt. C.T. Gregoire, the MARFORPAC ATFP officer. “Simple parking violations could be life threatening.”
People who park near or in fire lanes deter emergency personnel from doing their job.
“If someone had a heart attack in building 80, and the paramedics couldn’t get to the building because of some guy illegally parked, they may not get to them in time,” said Gregoire. “In that situation, seconds matter.”
He also pointed out DoD directives state that vehicles must remain certain distances from the buildings to maintain physical security.
“We can’t allow vehicles to park up next to the headquarters building [because of the] chance they have a car bomb,” he said. “This is another reason we’re ticketing more and towing vehicles. It’s all part of physical security.”
Future construction projects plan for more buildings to be demolished, and creating more parking lots near the building, according to Gregoire.
“We’re looking at adding some where between 200 and 250 parking spaces in the back lot, once the remaining buildings come down,” he said.
“Ultimately, if the personnel here will adhere to the parking restrictions we can avoid all the unpleasantries,” said Gregoire. “Its for their own safety.”