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Ice clearers claim parking spaces

February 16, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

and ANDREW SCHOTZ andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN

As snow and ice lingered Friday on Hagerstown's streets, shovelers flexed their muscles to clear out parking spaces.

Many left chairs, garbage cans, ironing boards or any objects they could find to claim and protect those spaces.

Police say the spot-claiming techniques are illegal and obstruct traffic.

Residents say spot-saving is necessary.

Around noon, in the 500 block of North Locust Street, Sherman Lynn stopped his Dodge Grand Caravan just short of his house. He got out and picked up an orange cone in the road. He got back in the minivan and maneuvered it into a clear patch.

"You almost have to, to save your spot," Lynn said of his place marker.

Around the corner, on the narrower Wayside Avenue, Jack Stewart was digging out a neighbor's car. Rather, he was chiseling ? ice was involved.

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Stewart said the save-a-spot practice is used only when necessary.

"We try not to because it's against the law ... (but) from time to time, we do," he said. "Those with four-wheel drive don't."

Stewart said another neighbor spent four hours clearing a space in front of his home only to have someone working nearby take the spot.

Michael Lichtenberg spent eight hours shoveling sidewalks, his driveways and parking spots this week. He uses large brown garbage bins to claim his parking spots.

"I know it's illegal, but I do it anyway," he said.

Clearing a spot takes so long, he needs to be able to use the spot he creates, Lichtenberg said. He and two others spent almost three hours clearing out a parking space, he said.

He did take care not to make a bigger mess when he shoveled, Lichtenberg said.

"I didn't throw any snow in the street," he said. "I have that much courtesy."

Some car owners didn't bother shoveling out their cars, leaving vehicles encased in a solid sheet of ice on the street.

Lynn and Stewart weren't happy with the city's road-clearing performance.

Lynn wondered why city plows pushed packed snow into a row of parked cars.

Scott Giffin also took issue with the city's road-clearing. He spent almost three hours clearing the sidewalk in front of Off the Deep End on West Antietam Street. The city plowed snow off the street and onto the sidewalk, Giffin said.

Giffin wasn't even going to try to clear the parking spaces himself, he said. A friend with a plow was going to clear a place to park, just as soon as Giffin could clear off the sidewalk, he said.

He used a metal scraper to chip away at the ice and snow.

Stewart said he saw a plow go down Wayside Avenue, then a salt truck ? but it dropped no salt.

"So we're left to fend for ourselves," he said.

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