Parking Crusader Under Attack
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 7, 2006
GLASSBORO, NEW JERSEY--Last August, Maryann Cottrell asked a police officer to issue a citation to a downtown Glassboro businessman that she claimed kept parking in a space reserved for people with disabilities. The man didn't seem to have a disability, and did not have a proper permit.
The officer responded that she could do it herself.
It turns out that New Jersey law allows citizens to report parking violators, and requires police and prosecutors to take the accused drivers to court.
Since then, Cottrell has reported about 300 alleged violations, including cars parked by Philadelphia Eagles stars Donovan McNabb and Jeremiah Trotter.
The mother of a 20-year-old daughter who has autism and is blind, Cottrell takes her camera with her when she runs errands around town, and takes snapshots of cars that appear illegally parked.
Her crusade has made her some enemies.
Cottrell, 53, has been prohibited from setting foot on local school property, along with the restaurant where she spotted the football players' cars. Rowan University officials also banned Cottrell from campus grounds. They claim the ban is for Cottrell's own protection, because of a confrontation she had with several students who had surrounded her car.
For those who call Cottrell a 'parking vigilante' she replies, "Something has to be done."
"Unfortunately, I've been sacrificed to the cause."
Tuesday's Gloucester County Times reported that Rowan University has removed four spaces where Cottrell and fellow crusader Richard Holland turned in dozens of students. The lines have been repainted and the spaces turned into a loading zone. School officials said the decision had nothing to do with Cottrell and Holland.
Friday's Asbury Park Press reported briefly that McNabb and Trotter were additionally cited last week for failing to appear in court.
The editorial in Tuesday's Courier-Post criticized the Eagles players for parking in the wrong spaces, and for missing their court dates: "McNabb and Trotter need to apologize, settle their legal case and then understand that, no matter their reason, it's never OK for them or anyone else to park without a required permit in a handicapped spot."
"Parking crusader issues tickets, makes enemies in college town" (Newsday)
"Parking-abuse outrage proves hard to curb" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Philly pro athletes miss their court date" (Asbury Park Press)
"Eagles set a poor example" (Courier-Post)
"Rowan removes handicap spaces" (Gloucester County Times)