Fire officials advocate for parking restrictions on the Hilltop


By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Public safety officials have asked a local advisory board to advocate for parking restrictions on some westside streets in order to improve the emergency response time.

At its meeting on June 6, the Greater Hilltop Area Commission heard from the administration at Fire Station 17 on West Broad Street about their growing concern over the amount of vehicles that are parked on the roadway – especially those that are narrow and have been designated as a one-way street.

“We have to hold our breath sometimes when we travel down these streets,” said Capt. Mark Mattox with the Columbus Division of Fire.

According to the veteran firefighter and the westside native, the overabundance of vehicles parked on both sides of the street have caused accidents, near accidents, and are impairing the ability of the fire engine and ambulance drivers to safely observe the road.

“As tight as those streets are, and the way the kids are darting in between the cars…” said Mattox. “I think (making changes to the current parking situation) would give us a little more opportunity to see what we’re seeing and a bit more room to move safely when we are responding to emergency calls.”

Mattox said there are only a handful of streets that he would recommend the commission advocate for parking restrictions with the city government: they are Clarendon, Eureka, Richardson, Terrance and Wayne. He would also like for the sharp bend in the road at Eureka and Whitethorne to be examined as residents have made numerous complaints of their vehicles “getting scratched” by ambulances coming down the road during emergency calls.

Mattox is not asking for the commission to advocate for a complete ban on parking on these streets. Instead, he would like the city to consider a parking restriction to one side of the road, especially on those one-way streets. He would also like the city to consider adding more connector streets that they could use as a safe cut-through, like they do with Highland and Wheatland.

“I think it is something that needs to be looked at,” Mattox said.

He added that the department cannot continue to have to back-up their vehicles when responding to emergency calls just because they cannot safely get down the narrow streets that are filled with parked vehicles.

“We’re not going to worry about clipping car mirrors when we have a cardiac arrest call or someone is choking,” he said.

The commission said they would speak to the residents and the city about the issue.

“This is something that we are going to need a lot of public input on,” said commission chair Dan Fagan in an interview after the meeting.

“We agree that something needs to be done to address the issue, but we also have to get the input from the residents who would be directly impacted by a potential parking restriction.”

One immediate solution to the overabundance of cars parked on the street, said Fagan, is for residents to use the alleys behind their homes to park their vehicles. He admitted that it was not a “great option” for many as they do not feel comfortable either walking in the alley or leaving their cars parked there.

“We have a lighting issue in the alleys,” said Fagan. “We have been asking the city for years to add more lighting to our alleys or to repair the lights that are out in our alleys and I think if those things were to happen maybe people wouldn’t feel as uncomfortable walking to their homes or leaving their cars there overnight.”

He said the commission would be discussing the parking situation further at the public safety committee meeting on June 22.

“It’s a complicated issue,” said Fagan, “but I think there are some potential solutions here that can be implemented so the safety of our residents is not (negatively) affected.”

In other news, the full commission meeting in July has been moved to the 11th to accommodate the Independence Day holiday. It will still be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilltop Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

The commission also approved to move their regular full commission meeting to Nov. 14 to accommodate the general election on Nov. 7. They will have regular meetings in September, October and December. There will be no full commission meeting in August unless immediate pressing business comes to their attention.

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