The landlord of the Cleveland Plaza is only allowing those who work in the
building to park in the lot, even at night when parking is free throughout Downtown Cranford.
Several residents have received boots on their cars for their first offense and were required to pay the $100 to $200 removal charge in cash, according to some residents.
Kathleen Prunty, Director of the Cranford’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said the office has been dealing with complaints about parking at Cleveland Plaza for more than week.
Prunty said she understands that the lot is private for the retail and office spaces, but many visitors believed after 6 p.m. they were not doing anything wrong, since parking in Cranford is free at that time.
“I think there was a better way to inform people that the parking restriction would be enforced starting with speaking with the nearby business owners, putting flyers on cars for a week or two and improving the signs to name the businesses of Cleveland Plaza,” Prunty said. “I am bothered that the employee from Parking Boot Service sat in a van and waited for people to leave the lot rather than advise it is private parking and they should move their car.”
The Landlord of Cleveland Plaza, Amy Liu, said that she is just doing the right thing for her tenants. There has been instances where people who needed to attend the Cleveland Plaza businesses had to park across the street and walk their young children over.
"Not only that it is carrying a cost to maintain the parking lot, but also there are significant liabilities associated with the use of the parking lot. Our tenants have long been bothered by unauthorized vehicles parked on our parking lot," she explained. "For a long time, a good portion of the parking lot was taken by vehicles who were neither customers nor tenants of the Cleveland Plaza."
Robert Bulger, who grew up in Cranford and just recently moved back, was sad to
see his car booted while out to dinner last Saturday night.
While in the restaurant, the owner announced to diners to move their cars. When Bulger left to move the car he discovered the boot, which cost him $150 in cash on the spot to remove.
“I saw many people, all who were out for dinner, now with boots on their cars for cash,” Bulger said. “$150 bucks is ludicrous and unreal. The boot service hired by Cleveland Plaza owners was cold, uncaring, unsympathetic and treated the masses like cattle for cash. It was sad to realize this was happening in the town I love.”
Since Cleveland Plaza is a privately owned lot, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the town, Cranford Police said.
Currently, there are signs warning of booting at the plaza, but as Prunty said, many visitors do not believe they are doing anything wrong, especially when it comes to parking after 6 p.m. Also, there was no warning of a new owner or new rules once the booting policy began.
Prunty explained that the town does not want to see any businesses, including those at Cleveland Plaza hurt because of this controversy.
“It is always preferable for business owners and landlords to work together on a problem to avoid a hostile situation,” she explained. “We certainly do not want to discourage people from visiting downtown and supporting our businesses.”
Liu added that during the summer she removed the booting services temporarily and those who were previously booted decided to return and park again illegally.
"We have observed that during the first time when I engage the PBS booting services in July, there was a significant improvement in parking crowdedness at Cleveland Plaza," Liu said.