gaithersburg council 2

Gaithersburg Residents Talk Parking Problems at Mayor and Council Meeting

Public urination, car alarms going off in the middle of the night, and trash on lawns, have neighbors of the Saybrooke community in Gaithersburg fed-up and they blame a surge in non-resident street parking.

At the Feb. 16 City of Gaithersburg Mayor and Council meeting, members of the Saybrooke area neighborhood, who live by Victory Farm Drive, told story after story about how non-residents, not only take up parking space with commercial vehicles, landscaping trucks, and cars; but also cause disturbances in the neighborhood.

Victory Farm Drive runs through the heart of thgaithersburg council 2e Saybrooke neighborhood and is also a designated snow route.

Jim McNulty is the president of the Saybrooke Homeowners Association.

“Over the past six months, the volume of non-resident cars has pushed beyond Victory Farm [Drive] on to some of the surrounding streets, including; Saybrooke View [Drive], Oxley Square,” McNulty said, “[t]here are others here tonight that will speak to the specific issues that have arisen, including threats to some of our neighbors, McNulty said. “Our community realizes that events at Kelley Park often require parking to spill into surrounding areas in the streets, and we’re all happy to be good neighbors, and in general those utilizing the park have not been an issue, however; many of the drivers are using Saybrooke as their own personal park and ride,” he said, ” [and] are creating quality of life issues for the homeowners who border these streets.”

Neighbors have tried to confront the issue individually, but have been met with push back. Lynn Slepski is a resident of the Saybrooke community.

“I was accosted by one of these car owners. This gentlemen happens to have two cars, and drives a third. He took umbrage to the fact that I was taking pictures of license plates. That’s how we were collecting our data,” Slepski said. “He threatened me, started to follow me. I had to call my husband to come and get me,” she said.

Slepski lives near a four-way stop along Victory Farm Drive and has experienced many problems. “Every week my sleep interrupted by car alarms going off, every week, there is at least one fist fight, where they’re fighting over the last available parking spot,” Slepski said.  She said people have even knocked on her door at 11 p.m. to ask where they can park.

“I don’t walk alone in my neighborhood at night anymore, I don’t even like to walk in my neighborhood with my 104 pound retired military working dog, because you know what, because these people feel entitled, they don’t respect my neighborhood,” Slepski said.

More recently, non-resident parking on Victory Farm Drive made it difficult for snow plows to create proper paths following the historic blizzard, community members said.

McNulty presented some potential resolutions for city officials to consider at the meeting. First is banning overnight parking on Victory Farm Drive near the Saybrooke fence. Second, is instituting a zoned permit parking on the streets surrounding Victory Farm Drive.

McNulty cited city code seciton 14-17A, which allows the city to implement a parking permit program when the use of the streets in a residential area is impacted due to government action. McNulty and community members believe the ban on overnight parking in Kelley Park qualifies as government action.

Gaithersburg City Councilmembers Ryan Spiegel and Henry Marraffa visited the Saybrooke community last year to look into the issue.

“We actually did witness some of the activity that’s being described”  Spiegel said, “it was the middle of the day and we witnessed some that activity and that was on Oct. 24,” he said. Spiegel said he discussed his findings with colleagues and staff .

“The wheels of government turn slowly and even efficient governments take a  little while to address problems, but I do think it’s been long enough and whatever our ultimate resolution is to these issues…I do think we need to get cracking and really develop a plan to respond,” Spiegel said.

In the meantime, Gaithersburg City Councilmembers suggest an increase in police enforcement as a short-term solution.

“I’d recommend that we get the police to start patrolling right away. We’ve clearly got some nuisance issues going on and we’ve had police patrols over stop sign issues, this sounds a lot more serious,” Gaithersburg City Councilmember Neil Harris said.

The Mayor and Council will also be looking at staff recommendations for a more comprehensive resolution. To view the meeting in its entirety, visit The City of Gaithersburg website.

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Maureen Chowdhury

About Maureen Chowdhury

Maureen Chowdhury is a multimedia journalist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at mchowdhury@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter at @MediaMaureen. Maureen authors the blog Sound Check on MyMCMedia.

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