Parking spaces dedicated to handicapped drivers should be utilized solely by those in need, a group of prominent Staten Islanders reminded drivers today, especially during this busy holiday season when parking is at a premium outside stores and elsewhere.
Saying it was part of his "annual courtesy campaign," Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island) met with business leaders and social service advocates at the Staten Island Mall to highlight what he called "a quality of life issue" and unveil this year's poster asking drivers to think before they park.
"Those spaces are there for people who need to carry on their everyday lives," said Cusick. "Those spots are there for a reason."
He said he's been working with the NYPD and Department of Transportation regarding enforcement.
Lorraine DeSantis, executive director of the Staten Island Center for Independent Living, noted fines for illegally parking in handicapped-reserved spots can reach $250.
Ms. DeSantis said that for her clients "it takes a great effort to go to CVS to get a prescription filled. They will become discouraged when there is no place to park and drive home. They feel very vulnerable and leave rather than confront or complain."
"A mother with a baby will use one of the spots and while you can understand it, it is still not right," she added. "You might have someone who is elderly and their gait is unsteady. We have had drivers with disabilities get nasty feedback from people who tell them, 'You don't look handicapped to me.'"
Linda Baran, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce president, said drivers "in a rush" sometimes park illegally, if only to make a quick stop, but in doing so deprive handicapped drivers of their rightful parking places.