Gramercy Residents Claim NYPD is Hogging Parking Spaces
By Ben Fractenberg
GRAMERCY — Mel Posin gave up his parking spot in a neighborhood garage after his 80-year-old wife, Rita, started using a scooter to get around and needed the car closer to their Gramercy Park North apartment.
But the 84-year-old Posin said it's been almost impossible to find street parking near his home because of the flood of NYPD squad cars or private vehicles with NYPD parking placards owned by employees at the Police Academy on East 20th Street or the 13th Precinct at East 21st Street. And his complaints are echoed by other residents and business owners around the area.
"You can’t find a spot here driving during the day," said Posin. "A lot of people park here with police plates."
Several deliverymen said police often take up all the spots along Third Avenue in Gramercy, including those zoned for commercial vehicles, forcing delivery trucks to double park and risk getting ticketed.
"Most of the time I come here I get a ticket," said Nigel Alex, 46, who makes daily deliveries in the area. "To avoid tickets I have to park two or three blocks away. It almost breaks your back."
A manager at Gramercy Park Flower Shop on Third Avenue said he and his coworkers get two or three tickets a week for double parking because all of the available parking spaces in front of his store are typically taken up by private vehicles with NYPD placards in the windshields.
The manager, who asked to remain anonymous, said he ends up paying a couple hundred dollars a week in fines.
Yong Gao, 35, who owns Fete Coffee on Third Avenue, said he often has to wait outside while delivery trucks drop off goods to his store to make sure they don’t get ticketed.
The NYPD did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
During a brief survey of the area Monday, DNAinfo counted 25 private vehicles with NYPD placards parked along the east side of Third Avenue from 20th to 23rd Streets. The cars, with placards that either read NYPD 13th Precinct or just NYPD, took up every space but one, including in parking spaces designated as being for commercial vehicles only.
"They take up the spots and then they give you the tickets," said B. Rajkumar, 60, who co-owns Gramercy Wine Cellars on Third Avenue. "I park in a garage. It costs us $1,000 a month because we can’t find parking around here."
Peter Donald, 52, who grew up in Gramercy and still lives in the area, said parking has been a problem for at least 30 years.
"Historically since the 1970s all the spaces have been taken by the Academy," said Donald. "It’s always been a reality."
Posin said the lack of parking has affected other services for elderly.
"Access-A-Ride this morning had to park in front of the pump," said Posin pointing to a fire hydrant about 20 feet from his building’s front door. "He waited for her for 10 minutes."