Fayette County

Newberry hears pros, cons on game-day yard parking

Mayor Jim Newberry received an earful Thursday when he met with neighbors about the idea of allowing cars to park on front yards on University of Kentucky home football game days.

Lawn parking is part of the atmosphere on game day, said supporters of the idea.

People come and tailgate, said Carol Taylor, who parks cars at two houses at Waller Avenue and Elizabeth Street. "It's a very fun activity in a controlled environment."

Opponents of the idea talked about the traffic problems caused by people circling the neighborhood looking for a yard parking spot. The people who get those spaces drive through the front yards of the adjoining property when they leave, they said.

"I had to put a fence up to keep them from running through my yard," said Betty Bunting.

Others asked why UK doesn't let people park on its grass since it's the school's football game.

About 25 people attended the meeting with Newberry. More than 70 percent of them were in favor of enforcing the city's law prohibiting parking on front yards.

Newberry set up Thursday's meeting with the neighbors who live around Commonwealth Stadium to help him decide whether he would support a measure to legalize parking on front yards on game days.

The mayor was happy with the turnout and the quality of the comments he received, but he isn't ready to take a stance on whether parking on lawns should be allowed on game day, said Susan Straub, Newberry's spokeswoman.

Although parking on front yards is illegal, the practice had been allowed by police for years because the department lacked the manpower to ticket illegally parked vehicles.

When Newberry decided to step up police enforcement on game days this year, the police planned to begin ticketing vehicles. Those plans came to a halt when Urban County Councilman David Stevens introduced an amendment that would allow parking on lawns on game days.

Stevens' amendment requires two official council readings for final approval. First reading is scheduled for Sept. 11, after UK's first home football game of the season. It's unclear whether police will ticket vehicles parked on lawns on Sept. 6 or if they will continue to look the other way.

"People don't just park," said Mark Barker. "They park and tailgate and they party."

Anne Marie Stamatiadis, president of the Seven Parks Neighborhood Association, said yard parking shouldn't be allowed, but rather than ticketing individual cars on yards, the city should ticket the person at the house who is allowing the parking.

"It's unfair to ticket vehicles," she said. "Out-of-towners don't know (Lexington's law), but the homeowners, they know."

If it's a big fine of $500 or so, the people at the house won't allow cars to park on the front yard again, Stamatiadis said.

Taylor said she has never any problems with vandalism or fighting in the 20-plus years that she has parked cars on her property. "We feel like we are doing a service by getting them out of the neighborhoods," she said.