Construction workers ticketed for parking near site

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As construction continues on the new Gateway at Belknap project in Grand Rapids, workers at the site say they’re being unfairly ticketed while parking there.

At the center of the worker’s parking plight are signs that declare parking is by permit only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. That’s because the area is marked as a Residential Parking Permit Zone (RPPZ).

Blue-collar worker Scott Bolot said he and fellow concrete workers are being slapped with parking ticket after ticket while on the job. He said one co-worker has gotten five tickets in just one month.

Bolot thinks it’s unfair.

The area where the Gateway, a mixed-use building that will include apartments and a restaurant — is being built used to have individual houses.

“This is not a residential area anymore. This has been zoned and permitted by the city of Grand Rapids commercial,” Bolot said.

He argues site workers should be able to park around the construction zone for free. Bolot said they’re not competing with residents for the spots.

“We have yet to see very many residents parking along this fence at all,” he said.

Bolot said the $30 tickets that have been issued are nothing to sneeze at.

“For some guys it is half a day’s pay,” he said. “I can see the city wagging their tongue at all the money they’re going to make.”

He refuses to spend the $75 per month for a city-issued commuter permit. But what about just parking further away in a safe zone?

“Hard as I work, I don’t want to have to walk four to five blocks to and from work to park somewhere,” Bolot said, with other workers adding that it can be tough during the winter months.

Orion Construction is heading up the Gateway project.

“My personal thought on it: Once it’s a construction site, we should be able to park around it. But again, there are rules we have to abide by,” said Don Reed, site superintendent for Orion.

Orion said it leaves it up to subcontractors to sort out parking for the workers.

Bolot works for one of those subcontractors: Kent Companies. An owner of Kent Companies told 24 Hour News 8 that workers on site were informed of the restrictions.

But Bolot and some other workers are ignoring the signs anyway — an effort to right a wrong in their eyes.

“I guess we kind of ignored some of the signs here and there, but… this (area) has changed. There’s not houses here anymore,” Bolot said. “I shouldn’t have to buy a residential parking permit.”

Residents also have to pay for the permits — but it only costs $15 per six months for the people who live in the area.

Bolot said he reached out to the city and was told “they’re working on a solution.”

24 Hour News 8 reached out to city parking services and had not yet heard back as of Wednesday night. A city spokesman did say they’ll be looking into this.

More generally speaking, crews told 24 Hour News 8 parking is often an issue in construction zones.

And what about service workers, like plumbers, who may park in an RPPZ? Per rules and regulations from the City of Grand Rapids Parking Services: Delivery, service, or emergency vehicles parked in an RPPZ while making short-term visits — defined as 20 minutes or less — are not required to have a permit. Vehicles on the street longer than that must have a dated guest permit or be subject to ticketing.—–Online:Resident permit parking FAQ (PDF)Residential Parking Permit Program Rules and Regulations (download docx)

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