By RICHARD VIRGILIO
Images taken in December and January and obtained by The Coaster show Asbury Park’s Mayor Myra Campbell, while conducting city business, parked on the pedestrian walkway, near a standpipe (fire hydrant) and in front of an emergency exit for the Paramount Theater, Grand Arcade and Convention Hall.
“I was given a parking placard by the city as a perk of my role as mayor to use when on official city business that permits me to park in out-of-the-ordinary places,” Campbell said. “Have I passed by open parking spaces to park (on the sidewalk)? Yes. This is common practice for public officials around the nation, I think. Nothing out of the ordinary but I have never, never, never parked in front of a fire hydrant.”
Two Motor Vehicle statutes detail that at no time can anyone “drive a vehicle on or across” or “stand or park a vehicle… on a sidewalk.” Both are $44 infractions for the first offense.
New Jersey Fire and Building Codes both require “immediate, clear and unobstructed access” to fire department connections. The codes additionally require exterior doors and openings of “assembly use” buildings always be “readily accessible” for emergency personnel and provide “direct and functionally clear access to a public way.”
“The mayor’s parking is illegal and dangerous,” said a New Jersey licensed code official. “If there was an emergency, her car would be an impediment to emergency personnel and the public.”
Mayor Campbell said she was unaware of any parking issues related to her.
“No one, not the acting city manager, not the fire chief, not the chief of police – I have never been told it was inappropriate to park there,” said the mayor, after naming other officials in Asbury Park and nearby cities whom she believes park similarly. “I broke no law, there is no violation and there is no reason why I would be ticketed. I am not doing anything out of the ordinary.”
Mayor Campbell continued, “Every other councilman and (two other local city employees) – and I can also speak about any number of other officials that take advantage of this special amenity during public business. Some cities have police drivers for their mayors. There are times I have three or four events in one day. For me to try to give as much of my time serving the public without this perk would be difficult. I can see this is the beginning of the political games in town.”