By Anessa V. Cohen
This past week I had the opportunity to visit with Mayor Andrew Parise of Cedarhurst (one of my readers). For those of you not familiar with the many wonderful things he has accomplished while mayor of Cedarhurst, I will just mention a few: the wonderful Cedarhurst Park and its playground, walkways, and summer concert series, as well as the ongoing constant enhancements that can be seen throughout the village.
A veteran of World War II, many of Mayor Parise’s medals as well as pictures and relics can be viewed on the wall of his office. Since I grew up the daughter of an avid Air Force man from World War II, we were able to discuss and trade stories of many of the trials and tribulations that faced those fighting men during the war.
As we tossed war stories back and forth, his own from Battle of the Bulge and mine from the memories of the host of stories my father had raised me on from his Pacific bomb runs, Mayor Parise diverted and said to me, “You would not believe the war that the Village of Cedarhurst finds itself fighting here today with people utilizing the village parking meters.”
I thought he was kidding and going to tell me stories of all the people who complain about the meter maids, but he started to tell me that I would be astounded what they find when they empty out the parking meters each week. I waited to hear him say that they find a few Canadian quarters, something that you hear about across the country since parking meters were created.
Instead he started to tell me of all the pennies and nickels village employees empty out of the parking meters each week. I couldn’t believe it, “Pennies and nickels?” I asked. “Do pennies and nickels work in the parking meters?” “No,” he answered, “but that does not stop people from trying to use them and putting them into the parking meters.” “In fact,” he said, “so many are put in that we end up collecting around $2,000 a year just in pennies and nickels taken from those parking meters.” He then went on to tell me that if this were not bad enough, people putting pennies and nickels into the machines would call and complain that the parking meters were broken, only to have the village send employees down to check the parking meters and find pennies or nickels wedged into the slots.
As I sat listening to him with my mouth open in surprise, he stood up and asked me to come with him so he could show me something in the other room. Up we went to the second-floor conference room, where he pointed to shelving with loads of huge jars, each filled with a variety of items. As I got closer, I realized that the only thing all the items in these jars had in common was that they all had the same shape and diameter as a U.S. quarter. Jars of multi-colored plastic discs similar to those you would use in a Bingo game, dull metal circles, plugs from electric boxes, currency from just about every nation on the globe, plus counterfeit currency, round brass circles with holes, similar to those used to make jewelry. It was like going to a museum for counterfeit items to use in lieu of quarters.
I really thought I had seen it all until I looked at all the stuff collected on those shelves. “You found all this stuff in the parking meters?” I asked. “Where do people come up with this stuff? It is truly unbelievable! Does any of this stuff actually work in the parking meters?” “No,” Mayor Parise answered, “but this is what we have to deal with every time we empty out the meters, and then we have to have people sit and sort everything out and separate the money and the junk.” I asked the mayor, “Isn’t putting all this junk in the parking meters against the law?” “Of course it is. It is called theft of services,” he answered.
“Mayor Parise, would you allow me to take a picture of this to show my readers? They have got to see this!” “Of course,” answered the mayor. And so, dear readers, see for yourselves! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.