Open reserved spaces absent

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Patrons using the Allegheny Street post office have six parking spaces reserved for their use: four 10- or 15-minute limit spaces alongside the building and two 12-minute metered spaces out front near the blue drop boxes.

With a near-constant stream of traffic, often those six spaces aren’t enough, and some choose to park elsewhere when the lots are full.

But some elderly and disabled customers who can’t or have difficulty trying to walk the extra distance are upset that there isn’t a designated handicap-reserved space.

“I can’t go more than a half block or more without taking a break,” said William Steinbrunner, 90, who pulled into the post office’s side lot on Monday afternoon.

Steinbrunner, who has a handicapped permit placard for his truck’s rearview mirror, said he normally relies on a rural mail carrier to deal with deliveries, but he has to be able to park close to the front ramp when he makes a trek to the post office.

“I run out of gas fast,” he said.

With parking already limited, post office officials said they would be hard-pressed to start reserving spaces at the Hollidaysburg location that take away from regular parking.

“Hollidaysburg’s very tight,” said regional spokesman Tad Kelley. “There’s a logjam that can be created there.”

Borough traffic code provides for more than 20 handicap-reserved spots throughout Hollidaysburg to ensure proper traffic flow while also providing access for disabled drivers, said Borough Manager Mark Schroyer.

“There’s no requirement in the downtown district to have X amount of spaces based on the number of spaces that you have” in public street parking, he said, but the code allows for council to designate more spaces if a business owner asks for them.

Kelley said even if the borough had parking requirements to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the post office is not bound by all its regulations – including ones regarding handicap-reserved parking.

“We do everything we can to maintain compliance with the ADA,” he said, but a lot of factors have to be considered by the post office’s facilities organization when deciding whether to add a reserved space, including traffic patterns, availability and safety issues – such as whether a patron would exit their car in a grassy area or on the street.

Safety is always a big concern, he said, and the post office tries to work with customers and will come out to provide someone assistance if they need it.

“We haven’t had a number of calls about this,” he said, and added that residents could petition Borough Council to add a spot if they really thought it was necessary.

Borough officials also said they receive few complaints about handicap-reserved parking spaces, which Schroyer said is mostly thanks to an old streetscape project that provided for more curb cuts along Allegheny Street.

“A parking spot might not be there directly,” he said, but when looking at the stretch between Penn and North Montgomery streets, “access is pretty good.”

Borough resident Michelle McGowan was lucky enough to snag a spot at the post office late Monday afternoon and said even though it would make parking even more difficult if a handicap-reserved space was added, disabled patrons’ needs should be taken into consideration.

“It would be good,” she said, “but it’s a tough situation – and one I’m glad I don’t have to make a decision [about].”

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.