WILKES-BARRE — When the mail carrier passed by his house on Hutson Street without stopping Wednesday morning , John Sod took it as good news.
There were no bills or junk mail to deal with that day.
It got better though.
“They’re going to let me park there,” Sod, 75, said of the cracked concrete pads in front of his house – literally right in front and not on the street where spaces are hard to come by.
The resolution of his dispute with the city came about after a discussion with Mayor Tony George while he and members of the Neighborhood Impact Team converged on Hutson, Lehigh, Hickory and Dana streets and Park Avenue in the Iron Triangle section after residents complained about parking, blight and crime in the area.
The city conducted a similar surprise “NIT Hit” in February 2017 after a woman was shot on her porch on the corner of Hutson and Metcalf streets.
Sod recently had been issued a $25 parking ticket for allegedly driving over the curb into the space he said he’s been using since 1973. He stuck hand-lettered signs to his porch railing that read, “I’m Parked in My ‘Front’ Yard ‘Not’ on the Sidewalk.”
Along the narrow one-way street other residents parked like Sod.
“This street has always been bad for parking,” Charles Slavish, 55, said. “People are people. We come up with our own solutions.”
“That’s not anyone’s fault. You can’t make the street bigger,” added John Banks, 73.
Slavish, 55, said he had an arrangement with a neighbor to park off street.
“You can’t hop the curb. That’s a zoning issue. It has to be a curb cut,” explained city Administrator Ted Wampole, who took part in the “NIT Hit” with code and health, parking enforcement, police and fire.
Sod maintained he used a neighbor’s driveway to get into his space and did not block the sidewalk.
“They’re trying to do the right thing. The most important thing is they have to treat the crime issue,” Sod said.
From where he stood on his parking pad Sod pointed out scenes of past shootings, stabbings and a home invasion in which the victim who had been bound, escaped and bled on Sod’s car.
Darnella Randolph watched the activity on the street from her front porch. She said she rents and has lived on the street for two years. Some of the longtime residents blamed absentee landlords for the decline of the neighborhood.
But Randolph, who declined to give her age, said her landlord takes care of the property and responds to her calls when there is a problem.
Her advice to the city on dealing with the residents’ complaints, “I say clean it up,” Randolph said.
Residents will have the opportunity to speak up during a “Community Conversation” with the mayor and other city officials at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Anthony’s Church on the corner of Park Avenue and Dana Street.
In addition to tickets issued for parking and motor vehicle violations, properties were checked, especially the vacant ones.
“Just making sure they’re all secure,” said Joe Rodano, NIT coordinator and community support director.
In the process they found a number of problems. “It’s mainly health and code violations,” Rodano said.
The “NIT Hit” resulted in:
• 24 Quality of Life Citations issued for violations such as high grass and weeds, and trash and debris on the property.
• 1 property was posted/condemned.
• 8 parking tickets issued for illegal parking and no registration.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.