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Albany city contractor accused of altering no parking signs, leading to tickets and tows

A paving contractor has issued an apology to the city of Albany after an employee altered “No Parking” signs, then called police to ticket and tow "illegally" parked cars.

Albany advocate Dannielle Hille brought the matter up during Monday night's Common Council meeting.

"On the day of October 20, on Ash Grove Place in the Mansion Neighborhood, where a contractor who was hired by the water department had changed the no parking signs. This occurred, so originally the no parking signs were posted on Ash Grove Place, they were for October 19. And they were from 7a.m. to 5 p.m.," said Hille. "There were Emergency No Parking at 6:47 a.m. on the 20th. The contractor calmly walked around and changed all of those signs. There were probably two dozen cars parked on the street legally, they changed those signs to be enforcing a no emergency no parking from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 20th. So approximately 15 minutes prior to when these altered signs would be enforced. They then called Albany police department and requested assistance to enforce the signs which they just altered."

Hille, who heads the neighborhood group "A Block At A Time," says the signs were altered, knowing full well that residents were asleep. Police arrived a short time later and immediately began ticketing and towing vehicles.

Second Ward Common Councilor Derek Johnson says this the second incident in recent memory involving parking issues and does nothing to brighten Albany's image.

"For someone to have to produce a picture of someone changing the sign, you know, people coming out in their cars are towed or ticketed," Johnson said. "It's a bad look for the city. It's a bad look for me as the councilman. And enough is enough."

The Common Council's Public Safety Committee, chaired by ex-Albany police officer Kelly Kimbrough, plans to discuss emergency no parking street signage with the police traffic engineering department November 18th.

David Galin, a spokesperson for Mayor Kathy Sheehan, issued a statement which says in part “Any person who was ticketed or towed as a result of the improperly altered signs may file a notice of claim with the City’s Law Department to receive a refund. The City has informed the contractor involved that any alteration of an Emergency No Parking sign is strictly prohibited.”

New Castle Paving delivered a letter of apology Wednesday to Sheehan, Common Council President Corey Ellis and Water Commissioner Joe Coffey, offering to reimburse the city and residents for all ticket and towing expenses stemming from the incident, further promising to "put forth a sincere effort to provide a positive impact in the community."

Letter sent by New Castle Paving to the City of Albany on Scribd

An earlier version incorrectly stated Dannielle Hille's name as "Danielle Hille" and said she was an activist. It also stated the organization, "A Block at a Time" as "One Block at at Time."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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