Utica honors veterans every day through new 'vets only' parking spaces
The city of Utica is showing its appreciation to the nation's veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but every day of the year. The city recently unveiled specially designated parking spaces near the disabled parking spots for veterans and their widowed spouses.
Fourth Ward Councilman Joe Marino says he came up with the idea while he was talking with his brother-in-law, who had returned from serving overseas a couple years ago. Since then, Marino says the city has rallied behind the plan.
"From the DPW (Department of Public Works) making the signs and getting right on board, to the mayor jumping on and affording all of his availability for an announcement, and our clerk's office who will be handing out the parking stickers," Marino said.
It also garnered the support of his fellow councilors, some of whom are veterans themselves.
Marino says two of those councilors, Jack LoMedico and Mark Williamson, designed the permits.
"Mark Williamson pointed my attention to a medal that the city of Utica gave out to World War II veterans in the 1940s," Marino explained. "So we paid a little homage to our Utica history with our veterans, and on the bottom of that decal that is an exact replica of the 1940s medal that the city gave out for our returning vets from World War II."
Marino was quick to point out that unlike disabled parking spaces, which are monitored by police, these parking spots are more of a symbolic gesture. But that doesn't mean the signs designating them should be ignored.
"Maybe something more along the lines of a fine, in terms of karma," Marino said.
The councilman says he plans to reach out to the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce to help get privately owned businesses involved, along with the Utica City School District.
And although the parking spots are right next to the disabled spaces in each lot, this initiative isn't just about helping a veteran get better parking.
"These guys deserve much more than a parking space, but this is just a little token of our appreciation from the city's end," Marino said.