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Hempstead resident’s complaints lead to street sign change

Sophia Ferguson stands on Mason Street on Tuesday,

Sophia Ferguson stands on Mason Street on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Village officials are changing a street sign after a resident complained about what she said is confusing language and unfair parking tickets.

Sophia Ferguson, a resident of Mason Street, received what she says are conflicting messages from village employees about whether she could park in front of her home on Mondays, when there typically is weekly street sweeping.

After street sweeping was suspended for the season in November, she believed the parking restrictions didn’t apply, but village parking enforcement still gave her six tickets totaling $300.

“That’s not fair to me,” said Ferguson, who often has to park her residence’s third car on the street. “You’re taking food off my table, I work paycheck to paycheck.”

Ferguson helped bring the street sweeping sign to her block in the first place. In 2012, she noticed the street was dirty and complained to the village about the lack of sweeping and the fact that there was no room for them to sweep, she said. In response, officials put up a sign that read “No Parking, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday, Street Sweeping.”

This fall, officials told Ferguson sweeping would stop for the season in November as village resources were devoted to leaf disposal and winter weather needs, she said. A village spokesman confirmed street sweeping had stopped in some parts of the village. Ferguson said she received a letter verifying it.

According to Ferguson, she thought this meant the parking restriction was lifted entirely for the season, and so she still parked on the street on Mondays. But the tickets kept showing up, totaling six at $50 each over the course of November.

“I hung out outside to wait on the guy giving the tickets. I told him stop giving us tickets,” she said. “It’s just bogus tickets.”

She contested the tickets in court Tuesday, where a judge voided them.

A village spokesman said the parking restrictions still stand, even when street sweeping is suspended for the season. The village voided the tickets “as a courtesy” to Ferguson, he added. It was not clear whether tickets issued to others for the same reason had also been rescinded.

Officials believe the confusion stems from the sign’s wording, and they will update it to remove mention of “street sweeping,” the spokesman said. The process will take about a week.

Ferguson is glad to have the tickets voided, but said she is unhappy with the village’s decision to alter the sign. The village should be clear about why residents have to move their cars, she said, but also not enforce the restrictions without reason.

“I’ll be damned if I’ll pay taxes and can’t park in front of my house,” she said. “How can in front of your house be a no parking zone?”

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