On June 23, 55-year-old Laura Carlone fell in a supermarket and broke her left leg. She lived in Weehawken with her mother at the time, but on top of her preexisting medical conditions (severe arthritis in her right leg, and others), the fall proved too much.
She moved into her sister Laura McCoy’s home in West New York, since she was no longer able to care for herself. Carlone moves short distances, painstakingly, with a walker, and requires many doctors’ visits per week.
McCoy, who has a full time job and responsibilities of her own, has to make the most of her time in order to care for her sister, she said. The street she lives on is one-way and leads into a parking lot. The only way to circle back to her home to find parking when she drives her sister to and from the doctor is to turn onto Kennedy Boulevard and wind her way back.
“I usually borrow a neighbor’s driveway,” McCoy said. “I have to help Laura into the house, get her settled, and then go back and drive, sometimes for an hour, to find parking. And sometimes there isn’t anything available outside the house.”
“It’s an ordeal to get my sister out and in and out of the car.” – Anna McCoy
“I’ve gotten the runaround from the town about the space that my sister and I desperately need, and when I spoke to an officer in traffic, he said there were still applications from 2006,” McCoy explained. “Honestly, I don’t know if my sister will be around in four years.”
While McCoy understands that these things take time, she said, she takes most issue with the fact that no one seems to be able to tell her what the exact process and time frame will be for acquiring a space in front of the home she and her sister have owned for 23 years.
She said was told by a town official the process could take up to six months and that a committee had been established by Mayor Felix Roque when he took office to handle applications.
“Before I became mayor, it was a mess,” Roque said Sept. 4. “People were asking for handicap parking as handouts. I didn’t like that, and I thought it should be a fair process, so I established a commission to review the applications and documents and to make sure they have all the justifications.”
McCoy began the application process in the beginning of August when her son brought her the forms. She obtained all the required supplementary documents, including a doctor’s letter. She added a copy of the DMV application and approval for handicap license documents and an additional letter from Carlone’s physical therapist for good measure.
On Aug. 8, McCoy brought her sister to Town Hall to meet with Roque’s assistant, Jorge Dunes. (She had called the Traffic Division but was greeted with a message that said the sergeant in charge was away on medical leave. She was then referred to Dunes.)
Dunes accepted her application and told McCoy everything seemed in order and that he would call her the following day, she said.
But he didn’t call.
McCoy called four days in a row, until finally on Aug. 15, Dunes called to tell her he should never have taken the application, and that he had forwarded it to the Traffic Division, she said.
“I was taken aback by this statement as I felt he wasted our time,” McCoy said. “It’s an ordeal to get my sister out and in and out of the car. And then picking up her wheelchair is a strain on me as well, since I have back problems myself.”
Moving the process along
McCoy said that two days later, she called the Traffic Division and spoke with an officer, who initially told her he had never seen the application. He then called McCoy back to tell her he had found the application, but that she didn’t have the necessary supplementary documents.
On Sept. 4, McCoy had still not received any information as to the status of her application after placing several more calls. The same day, the Reporter called Roque, tried to figure out where McCoy was on what he called a wait list.
This past Tuesday, Roque explained, “It’s a wait list applicants go on and they are reviewed by the committee one by one. I like to do everything within the guidelines of the law, but in this extreme situation, I’ll try and recommend her.”
A police officer visited McCoy earlier this past week to explain the process to her, and the application was refiled in its entirety. After that, McCoy had not gotten any updates as of press time Thursday.
How to apply
Those interested must visit the Traffic Office and speak with Civilian Secretary Pat DeLuca in room 26 in Town Hall to pick up an application packet. Once the application is completed, it is forwarded to Patrolman Andy Rana, Town Administrator Carmella Riccie, and Police Director Michael Indri, who make up the committee.
They meet every other month to review the applications. Currently, close to 200 applications are under review, and the town’s parking space is limited as it is, Indri explained Sept. 5.
“It’s a pretty lengthy process,” Indri said. “Best case scenario, it takes three or four months.”
Indri said that he would push for the application to be reviewed in a September committee meeting (pushed up from October) due to the urgency of McCoy’s situation.
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org