By Jenifer Guzman ‘15 & Ashley Harris ‘15
Muni-Meters are causing unexpected distress among school staff and Brooklyn College students, making them choose between fulfilling their obligations or paying a pricey ticket. On March 14, the Muni-Meters were programmed to start accepting money at eight o’clock a.m. on the dot, without notifying any teachers, students, or residents around the area, igniting confusion and anger.
Before March 14, people could buy a ticket and park before eight o’clock a.m and leave knowing that their car was safe for another six hours. Now people cannot buy a ticket before eight o’clock a.m. The new change has caused unforeseen complications for school staff and Brooklyn College students who teach or have classes that start at eight a.m.
“As a teacher you can’t put your class on hold to run down and put money into the meter. If you do, you won’t be keeping your job for long,” said English teacher, Ms.Maureen Cox.
Putting money into a Muni-Meter is not as quick as it may sound. Some teachers and students do not have cars parked around the corner but have parked cars six or seven blocks away. Then they have to place the ticket stub from the meter in the front windshield window of the car to prove that they have paid for parking and prevent them from getting a ticket. The weather also has to be taken into consideration during cold, snowy and rainy months.
Also, alternate side parking rules are still in effect certain days of the week, which creates an additional problem of finding another place to park. Alternate side parking means you have to move your car so the street cleaners can get through. Alternate side is suspended on holidays and certain religious days, but the meters are still in effect.
The city is making hundreds of dollars off teachers, students and residents in this neighborhood. The meters surround Campus Road and Bedford Avenue and extend towards the elementary school. Midwood alone has 200 teachers, not to mention an elementary school a block away, and Brooklyn College students. Midwood is one of the only public high schools that is surrounded by meters. James Madison and Murrow, for example, do not have meters around their school property. Also, tickets cannot be overlapped meaning if you get to the meter early, you cannot pay until time on your last ticket expires.
“We are literally surrounded by Kiosk machines. We are being set up,” said Ms.Cox.
Ms.Cox has been affected greatly since she recently suffered an accident that left her knee swollen, and she cannot walk for long distances. For her, public transportation is not an option with her injury and the papers she has carry to and from work.
“I don’t have to explain to the city why I need to drive my car,” said Ms. Cox.
She said she has been lucky because she doesn’t have a second period class so she can pay for her parking spot at eight. Her colleague, Mr. Kamil Kraszewski, has saved her the four flights of stairs and the walk to her car by offering to refill the meter for her. But Ms. Cox said she is worried about next year. If she has a second period class she doesn’t know how she will pay the meter on time to avoid a ticket.
Social studies teacher and union chapter leader for our school, Mr.Stuart Rothstien, wants to get rid of the meters permanently, but he is skeptical the city will remove the meters, so he proposed to get parking passes for the teaching staff that would last for one school year and then expire, and the staff could alternate the years. He has to contact the state senator and the New York City Department of Transportation to propose his ideas. Teachers are hoping for a solution that will accommodate everyone.