People who park illegally in the spaces this city sets aside for the disabled had better take heed: The disabled are watching and they've got cameras.
The parking watch program began last month after Anthony Prestino decided he'd had it with non-disabled people filling all the spaces for the disabled in front of his clock repair shop."It happened too often," says Prestino, an amputee who wears a prosthesis on his left leg. "You'd always see a handicapped person trying to wait for someone to come out so they could park."
Prestino went to Police Chief William J. Chiarenzelli. The two decided to give cameras to disabled people willing to keep an eye out for lawbreakers.
The nine-person corps of volunteers had photographed 13 violators as of last week. All 13 paid fines, said Robert Quinn, the department's public safety officer.
And word seems to have spread quickly through this affluent suburb of New York City that it's not wise to take a parking space reserved for the disabled. "There are more and more spaces available now for the handicapped folks to park," Chiarenzelli said.
Members of the parking corps range in age from their 40s to their 80s and include a wheelchair user and people with heart and lung conditions that prevent them from walking long distances.
One volunteer, Marion Frazier, photographed a van parked at a beach in a spot that Frazier had lobbied authorities to set aside for disabled people.
"I guess he wasn't too happy," she said. "But I wasn't too happy when I couldn't park, either."