, Port Arthur, Texas

October 16, 2013

Ned street divided on 'No Parking' signs

Some want signs removed, others say they make street safer

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — Mary Clampitt remembers all too well a time when after-school activities at nearby C.O. Wilson Middle School transformed her Nederland street into a parking lot.

“We had over 100 cars down both sides of the road,” said Clampitt, 67, who moved into her home on Memphis Avenue in June of 1969. “We couldn’t even get up the street.”

That changed in 2007, when the Nederland City Council passed Ordinance No. 107, establishing a no-parking area on Memphis Avenue Monday-Thursday between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. Since then, Clampitt said, her street has felt less like a parking lot and more like a neighborhood — and she no longer has to worry about an emergency vehicle reaching her house unencumbered. Three months ago, her husband was transported via ambulance from their home to a local hospital, where he died three days later. If not for the parking signs, Clampitt said, the ambulance would have been unable to reach him at all.

“Some of us are getting old, and you never know when you’re going to need them,” Clampitt said. “Are they going to park at 27th Street and wheel them out there?”

Not all of Clampitt’s neighbors share her views. At an Oct. 14 meeting, Memphis Avenue resident Tresa Fenn brought a petition requesting the removal of the No Parking signs from the 2300 block of the street before the Nederland City Council. Fenn became irate when she received a citation for parking on the street in front of her home.

“Residents do not want to be ticketed anymore,” Fenn said at the meeting. “It’s kind of ridiculous.”

Fenn obtained at least 11 signatures, including Stephanie Arceneaux, whose mother was ticketed for parking in front of her home when she came over to help Arceneaux care for her nine-month-old twin daughters. Arceneaux said the officer wrote the ticket despite her husband’s explanation that the vehicle belonged to his mother-in-law.

“My mother’s car was probably the only one on the street,” said Arceneaux, 43, who paid the $65 ticket on her mother’s behalf. “I thought it was discourteous that the officer didn’t knock on the door and say, ‘Whose car is that?’ He could have given us a warning.”

Arceneaux, who has lived on Memphis Avenue for nearly 13 years, also recalls seeing vehicles cluttering the street. She understands that the signs help to mitigate traffic, but she also doesn’t want to see her guests penalized.

“You just don’t park in front of somebody’s house out of respect,” she said. “But if I have a party during the week, where are my guests going to park? These circumstances are a little bit ridiculous.”

Like Arceneaux, Clampitt can sympathize with her neighbors at the end of the street, for whom the signs have created such an albatross. But for her, and other neighbors, the signs have fulfilled their purpose.

“The point is, when you can’t get in and out, there’s a problem,” Patsy Wagner, another longtime resident, said at the meeting. “I need to be able to have my family get into my driveway.”

With neighbors polarized over the issue, no quick fix has presented itself to city officials. Because Memphis Avenue is a public road, no ordinance can be passed allowing residents only to park on the street, Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush said at the meeting.

“It’s either all or nothing,” Bush said. “But we never have been aggressive with tickets unless a complaint is called in.”

No action was taken at the meeting, but Mayor R.A. “Dick” Nugent assured the residents that their concerns were not being dismissed.

“There’s lots of ifs and ands and buts,” Nugent said. “But we are not turning a deaf ear.”


Twitter: @ErinnPA