The rampant and ongoing abuse of disabled parking spaces around Watertown and particularly by visitors to our schools is not just illegal (it can come with a hefty fine), but also shows no compassion or empathy for those of us who really need these spaces.
I am the parent of a seventh grader and fifth grader at Watertown Public Schools, and also a wheelchair user. When I arrived at WMS on Tuesday for my son’s parent-teacher conference there was a car parked illegally in one of the disabled spaces. It did not have a disabled parking permit, and was also parked at such an angle that it encroached by several feet onto the hatched area that separates the two disabled spaces. This area provides essential space for a wheelchair user to get in/out of their vehicle or use a ramp. The only available parking space was a regular space. These spaces are much narrower and do not allow me to open the door fully, bring a wheelchair alongside the car, or extend a wheelchair ramp. As a result my husband had to stop in the driving lane, help me out of the car and then pull into the space.
When we came out of our conference, a different vehicle was illegally parked in the same space, and again my husband had to back out of the space, stop in the driving lane and then help me into the car. Had I been attending a meeting at the school by myself, I would have been unable to get in/out of my car, and as a result I would have been unable to access the building and carry out my everyday responsibilities as a parent.
This is not the first time I have seen these abuses at our schools and around Watertown in other public and private parking lots. For instance, I have been prevented on multiple occasions from bringing my sons to the Dealtry Pool due to there being no parking available, whilst cars without disabled placards are parked in the marked spaces. These spaces are reserved for people with disabilities for a reason, not just for convenience. Please respect your fellow citizens right to equal access to all of our town’s amenities.