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Frank Gray

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Frank Gray | The Journal Gazette
Evelyn Murphy’s driveway is next to the end of the sidewalk on her side of the street. Parking enforcement officers have ticketed her for blocking the sidewalk.

Where the sidewalk ends

Woman ticketed for blocking path that doesn’t exist

When a developer builds a new subdivision, it isn’t uncommon to install sidewalks on just one side of the street.

That’s the way it was done in Evelyn Murphy’s subdivision along Londonderry Lane on the city’s north side.

Well, almost.

When Murphy built her home in the late 1970s, the developer started to put sidewalks on both sides of the street, but on one side the developer put a sidewalk in front of only two houses. The walkway crossed the property line of Murphy’s home and stopped when it reached her driveway.

Call it the sidewalk to nowhere.

Well, Murphy has a lot of cars in her household, and when she parks two cars back to back one car crosses where the sidewalk would go – if it existed.

It doesn’t make much difference, though. The sidewalk stops at her driveway, so technically she isn’t blocking a sidewalk. It is no longer there.

A couple of years ago, though, someone from parking enforcement came to her home and gave her a warning ticket for blocking the sidewalk.

At the time, Murphy says, she spoke to someone in parking enforcement, who in turn passed her on to someone with the highway department.

It was all a mistake, she said she was told. The sidewalk that ends at her driveway is technically not a sidewalk. The city had ceded it to the highway department.

Then, on Friday, Murphy got an $80 ticket – for blocking the sidewalk that stopped at the edge of her driveway.

Supposedly the latest ticket flap has been taken care of. Murphy has been assured that the ticket won’t be pursued.

But it irritates Murphy, who is 70 years old.

We’ve all seen parking enforcement officers – if you work downtown. They drive around in Smart cars with bright strobes, writing tickets to people whose parking meters have run out of time or people who have parked in no parking zones.

The thing is, you really don’t see those Smart cars anywhere else.

Murphy thinks it’s a waste of time for someone to drive 20 minutes or more, 8.5 miles north of downtown, to write her a ticket for blocking a sidewalk that isn’t there.

I think she’s right.

Wives raise funds

FireWives.com, a fledgling online community of wives of firefighters, has ended its campaign to raise money for the West, Texas, fire department, which lost several firefighters and large pieces of firefighting equipment in the huge fertilizer plant blast last month.

The organization, which is meant to be a support group for the wives of firefighters, who are often called away in the middle of dinner and the middle of the night, had only about 200 members around the country.

After the huge explosion in West, FireWives started selling FireWives T-shirts, hoping to raise money to donate to the crippled fire department. The small group isn’t made up of savvy fundraisers, but they thought perhaps they could replace some smaller pieces of equipment lost in the explosion.

By Sunday night, the group had sold more than a thousand T-shirts and raised a total of $11,050 for the volunteer fire department.

“It might not have been as big a donation as others have made, but we are over the moon to be able to send this to WVFD,” said Heather Williams, who headed up the effort. “We never dreamed we’d raise this much.”

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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