By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
NOLANVILLE – Some city residents are outraged after receiving citations for parking in a fire lane next to Nolanville Elementary School during two different academic awards assemblies this week.
City officials said the fire department responded to a fire alarm on Thursday and the vehicles parked in the fire lanes created an obstacle for the fire department. Code enforcement officers and members of the fire department ticketed these vehicles and explained their actions followed state and municipal laws.
Residents who attended the school assemblies argue they have always parked in the fire lane in the past because it is the only place to park when the school's lots are full. They said they feel parking on the shoulder of the road poses a risk of being hit by oncoming traffic.
The ticketing occasions were at 9 a.m. Monday and Thursday, and the tickets issued Thursday numbered fewer than a dozen.
"If you're trying to make this town to be so community-involved, why are they making it so hard for people to do a positive thing for their kids?" said Carolyn Monroe, a Nolanville resident.
Police Lt. Robert Franklin said many of the tickets issued were warnings, and they did not carry a fine. Tom Jones, the city's code enforcement officer, said the actions by the fire department had nothing to do with city politics or any new policies.
"Don't park in a fire lane – it's marked," Jones said.
Larry Forbes Jr., one of the Nolanville residents ticketed, said he was at the school for his child's kindergarten graduation. The fire alarm went off during the school assembly because of a fire reportedly located two miles away from the school. Forbes said he was told nothing would happen to the vehicles parked illegally. However, when he left the school, he found members of the fire department were blocking the lane and would not allow illegally parked vehicles to leave until they were issued a $150 citation for parking there.
"I do believe Nolanville is money hungry, and it was a setup to where the fire alarm was either intentionally set off or the fire marshal had to come up there where all the lanes were blocked off or something along those lines," Forbes said. "It's too much of a coincidence; it happened two days in a row at the exact time the ceremony was in process."
Contact Robert Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org