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Frank Gray

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Semi tractor-trailers are using the Village of Coventry parking lots as a truck stop and damaging the property as they enter and exit.

Big rigs wreak havoc at shopping center, making tenants mad

About two years ago, the president of International Business College, Steve Kinzer, arrived at the school’s campus at the Village of Coventry to find two car-carriers parked in the area normally reserved for student parking.

Kinzer said he has a certain amount of empathy for truck drivers who need to find a place to park their trucks, but the two rigs took up 40 parking spaces, forcing students to park elsewhere.

So Kinzer parked his car to block in the carriers and walked to a nearby motel to find out the name of the transport company, hoping it would notify its drivers not to park in that area. The company, though, turned out to be a husband-wife team of owner-operators, and they were angry about having their rigs blocked in.

In the end, though, the message was delivered. Some signs forbidding trucks were installed, and the school hasn’t had a problem with big rigs since.

But trucks still show up, 15 or more on some days. They park in the rear of the shopping center, near a couple of motels and in a parking lot normally used by some movie theaters.

That in itself might seem harmless enough, but as they travel in and out of the shopping center, they leave their mark, and that has some tenants upset.

Duane Miller, who works at Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber, a real estate firm with a large office at Coventry, complains that as trucks pull in and out of the shopping center, they’re doing a lot of damage.

In front of the office where he works, there was a large landscaped island with concrete curbs around it. As trucks, especially car carriers, tried to make their way out of the shopping center along its winding lanes and sharp turns, they would bang into the curbing. Little by little it was destroyed.

Eventually, part of the landscaping island had to be removed completely, eliminating one row of parking for cars, Miller said. Still, rigs continue to hit what is left of the island, and the concrete is chipped and cracked. Another island has been obliterated, along with a stop sign that has been leveled by trucks trying to get out.

Around parts of the shopping center, many of the concrete islands are chipped and cracked, and there are some that have muddy areas where rigs have run over the islands, leaving dirt where landscaping was.

Kinzer said it’s sometimes fun to watch the rigs struggling to get out of the shopping center. “Like everything, there are good ones and there are bad ones,” and sometimes a truck will get stuck.

It makes Miller mad. Coventry is supposed to be an upscale shopping center, he says. It’s being damaged, he says.

The company that manages the shopping center is quite aware of what’s going on and is aware of the damage and says things are getting worse.

The fact is, I was told, the shopping center isn’t zoned as a truck stop. The trucks really shouldn’t be there.

The shopping center has notified various city officials, who have said they will look into the issue.

For now, though, the trucks remain, wend and scrape their way, some more skillfully than others, along the lanes of the development.

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

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