More Space for Those Who Need It


DATE: 02/13/1997


Had more people mown the situation, there might have been screams of outrage when stork parking disappeared from Venture’s parking lot last year.

Stork Parking?

Keep reading! Parking spaces reserved for pregnant women, for parents with toddlers, and for senior citizens take off on handle Capped parking are popping up in parking lots across the country. But the stork parking situation at Venture’s in Evergreen Plaza is problematic.

Like more than 100 other Venture’s stores, the Evergreen Plaza store designated four parking Spaces for pregnant women last May around Mother’s Day. The idea supposedly came from the company president who got it while talking to a pregnant friend.

In Peoria, vandals demolished the signs a little more than a month after they appeared. As of last week, the sign a still had not been replaced and no one at Venture’s corporate offices could really explain why.

Despite the local Venture’s situation, the beyond-handicapped parking trend appears to be gaining ground — space by space.

Kroger grocery Stores in a handful of cities are test marketing stork parking, though there are no

Plans to expand nationally in the near future. Smaller retail, grocery and discount stores make it, available throughout the country.

In Asheville, N.C the local baseball team offers an “expectant mother zone.”

At least one suburban Chicago church offers priority parking for parents with toddlers, Dade County, Fla, requires major parking areas to supply toddler parking.

In the Peoria area, designated parking for senior citizens and/or parents with toddlers apparently is generated more interest than Stork parking.

Kohl’s department store in the Willow Knolls Court shopping center offers special parking for senior citizens. Westlake Shopping Center offers parking for senior citizens and parents with toddlers.

The push for designated parking for parents of toddlers inched forward several months ago when Dr. Rudolph Kern, a Peoria optometrist, asked the city of Peoria traffic commission to Institute specialized parking for parents with toddlers in major parking areas.

When Kern read about toddler parking in a Family Circle magazine, he immediately thought of his daughter, a suburbah Chicago resident with small children, which tn a roundabout way explains how he ended up talking to Peoria traffic commissioners.

The commission agreed with the concept, but not with Dade County’s law. They decided,

According to city traffic engineer Jim Baumann, that parking lot owners could provide selective parking voluntarily as long as they did not decrease the number of handleapped parking Spaces.

Baumann wrote letters to major parking lot proprietors, such as Northwoods Mall and Metro Centre, making them aware of the traffic commission discussion. The letters emphasized the safety issue as it relates to parents with young children.

“The bottom line was the traffic commission didn’t want to make it mandatory,” Baumann says.

The traffic commission’s concerns reflect a broader real of issues, some real, some imagined.

As a Detroit grocery store executive put it. “There are so many problems. How do you know who’s pregnant and who’s not. And there are all the other groups who would want the same treatment. I “mean, what do you do for 4 guy who Just had a vasectomy?”

But few of the retailers who have enacted specialized parking report any problems.

“It’s Just a courtesy,” says Les Cohen of Cohen Development Co. Owners of Westlake Shopping Center. There are no fines for illegal parking in the toddler or senior citizen zones, “But we’d hope-people would be ethical.”