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McClure's parking research has West End man seeing red

February 18, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A search for additional parking in Hagerstown's West End has sparked a dispute between City Councilman J. Wallace McClure and former Councilman Larry Vaughn, who has threatened to have McClure arrested if the councilman tries to contact him again.

Vaughn and Joseph Imes, president of a West End neighborhood watch group, circulated a petition in protest because they thought McClure was trying to open up "red curb" areas for parking.

Red curb areas are no-parking zones - sometimes marked by red paint - that make room for turning firetrucks.

McClure says he was only investigating the possibility of changing one of the zones, and decided upon review that it should be left alone.

When he heard about the petition, McClure called Vaughn to discuss the matter. The conversation turned heated, according to both men, and resulted in Vaughan contacting city police about bringing a harassment charge against the councilman.

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Vaughn, a councilman from 1973 to 1981 who plans to run in the 2001 council election, said that based on a police recommendation he sent McClure a certified letter that states: "Should you phone me or trespass on my property, the Hagerstown Police Department will be notified and a warrant for your arrest will be issued."

McClure said he would not call Vaughn or go onto his property again.

Meanwhile, about 240 people, including Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, signed the petition, which Vaughn said will be presented at the Mayor and City Council meeting Tuesday.

The petition reads: "We, the undersigned, petition the Mayor and Council members to keep the 'Red Curb' as is for the safety of citizens and to allow the firetruck to make proper turns for the safety of the West End citizens."

Bruchey said he signed the petition because he agrees with its statement. The mayor said he knows little about the tension between McClure and Vaughn.

"I'm staying out of that argument," Bruchey said.

McClure said the petition fostered misinformation and "caused unnecessary alarm" among West End residents.

Although the petition doesn't target a specific person, Vaughn said that whenever asked he tells people it's in response to McClure's attempt to turn some of the "red curb" areas into parking spaces.

The conflict began more than a month ago when a West End resident and former employee of McClure's asked the councilman why the city needed a no-parking zone on West Church Street near the intersection with High Street.

McClure, a vocal promoter of adding parking spaces in residential areas, raised the question with the city's engineering department. McClure was told the fire department needs the no-parking area to ensure there is enough room for firetrucks to turn onto the narrow street.

At the invitation of city Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker, McClure and the chief took a fire department ladder truck out for a tour of the West End.

McClure said at first it appeared there was space for one new parking spot on West Church Street, but Deputy Hagerstown Fire Chief Richard L. Kipe told McClure the space was needed in case someone parked illegally in the spot. McClure said he was satisfied with the explanation and agreed the no-parking zone should remain as is.

When Imes and Vaughn heard that McClure went around the West End in a firetruck, they were concerned McClure was trying to eliminate "red curb" areas all over the West End.

So, Vaughn and Imes began circulating their petition.

Imes said within two days of starting the petition he found out McClure wasn't looking at any more "red curb" areas. But he continued collecting signatures for the petition.

"We don't want the issue to come back up," Imes said.

But the "red curb" issue isn't over yet for McClure.

Although the no-parking zone in question on West Church Street is marked with a no-parking sign, the curb is not actually painted red.

"I want engineering to paint the curb red from the sign to the corner," McClure said.

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