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Handicapped parking still challenged

April 21, 2007

To the editor:

The readers of the Herald-Mail are in for a treat: No Iraq civil war, no Bible verses, no hospital complaints, no political arguments, no grammar correction, no ill-treated veterans outrage, no gas price increase anger, no teacher salary pros and cons, no illegal immigrant resentment; only a subject that affects everyone: Handicapped parking. All of us have seen the blue signs with the white wheelchair. The question is, where are those signs located?

The new post office near the Long Meadow Shopping Center has six regular parking spaces, closest to the building entrance. Two handicap parking spaces take slots seven and eight, nowhere close to the door. Furthermore, there is only one "dip" in the sidewalk to permit a challenged customer to access it.

First Look Photo, on Eastern Boulevard, has a very ingeniously designed overhead, under which six cars can park for the customers to get into the store. On the other side of that cozy parking, out in the open, are two handicapped spaces. Have you ever tried to handle a cane and an umbrella simultaneously? You'd better not have to carry a package at the same time.

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The newly opened Gold's Gym has a large parking lot. In front of the building is a light pole on either side of which are seven and five parking spaces. After those come the handicap spaces, three on each side. Aren't gym-going people supposed to be athletic, vigorous and full of energy? Why not make them walk a little farther and let the closest spaces be reserved for challenged patrons? Yes, they go to the gym too, for medical reasons.

Many of us are using the Robinwood medical building. If you need to go to the green entrance, the doors slide open as you approach. Go around to the yellow entrance. It has doors that open manually (the plaques that open the doors are so far away on the wall that the doors close before you can access them). Yet, within a few feet of that door is the office of "the Center for Joint Surgery and Sports Medicine," meaning that the patients going through the yellow entrance use walkers and canes. Nobody has yet thought of duplicating the green entrance system at the yellow door.

If you are parked behind the Bon-Ton at Valley Mall, you will have used the handicapped spaces placed exactly opposite the door. Wonderful. Then you want to use the walkway leading to the lowered sidewalk. It would make sense if that walkway went straight across from the parking spaces to the door of the store, the shortest distance possible. No, it angles off to the right, going nowhere, to reach the lowered sidewalk that a handicapped person needs to use a walker or a wheelchair, thus tripling the distance one needs to cover.

I have asked a number of store managers why they put their handicapped parking spaces in such nonsensical places. The answer is the same, even from the post office "we do not choose them; the county tells us where to put them."

What handicap parking "decider" from any county, can be so illogical or unfeeling as not to put himself in the place of the people he is supposed to help. Is he a clone of the FEMA director of Katrina fame? And do the able-bodied citizenry, satisfied that there are indeed handicapped parking spaces, echo the president with a "You've done a heck of a job?"

When a heavy snowfall occurs, the plows, while clearing the mall's roads, pile the snow on the closest available empty area - the handicapped spaces. The two spaces become only one and by the time the snow starts melting, the water spreads on those reserved spots, becoming a dangerous icy sheet no handicapped person can manage.

Whoever the county "decider" is, he should check the examples given and correct their irrationality.

Jeanne Jacobs

Hagerstown

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