Wreckers Haul Away Dozens from Montgomery Plaza

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Posted January 16, 2012 by Anthony Mariani in Blotch

On Friday and Saturday nights, sources say, more than 100 cars were towed from Montgomery Plaza’s parking lot for illegal parking.

For years, visitors to the dozens of nearby bars and bar/restaurants in the West 7th Street corridor have taken advantage of the expansive free parking available at Montgomery Plaza, whose lot has room for about 500 vehicles.

The plaza recently posted paper signs indicating that parking restrictions would be enforced. “The problem is, people have been using the lot for years with no incident,” said Glen Keely, co-owner of Poag Mahone’s Irish Pub, located directly across Carroll Street from Montgomery Plaza. “They threw signs up and went to town, and unless you parked on the front row, with the signs, you would have had no clue.”

Keely said he’d heard “rumblings” for weeks that the plaza was going to begin enforcing parking restrictions, but he was not prepared for the actions that took place over the weekend.

The wreckers started towing away vehicles around 8 p.m. on Friday, ultimately making away with around 40 vehicles, he estimated.

Keely witnessed most of the action on Friday and nearly all of the action on Saturday. A “spotter,” Keely said, was patrolling the plaza’s parking lot, stealthily watching for violators and photographing their vehicles’ license plate numbers. A fleet of about a half-dozen tow-trucks, Keely estimated, was at the spotter’s call. The wreckers, said Eric Tschetter, owner of The Pour House on West 7th Street, “would pull [illegally parked] cars two wheels up, drive a block away, and then put them up on the truck. I mean, people had their parking breaks on. Cars were screeching all the way down the street. It was not a pretty sight.”

Keely, his doormen, and several other representatives from several other West 7th bars and bar/restaurants set up their own patrols across the street from the plaza, yelling at potential violators to move their cars as soon as they were parked.

The West 7th’ers and the Montgomery Plaza “spotter” reportedly got into several verbal confrontations over the weekend. “It was ugly,” Keely said.

At one point, Keely confronted a wrecker. “I told him, ‘You’re raping people for three-hundred bucks,’ ” Keely said. “He said, ‘No, it’s actually $293.30.’ ”

Jimmy Moore, owner of the 7th Haven on West 7th Street, witnessed a tow-truck driver employing a “Slim Jim” to break into a car to release the parking break. “I called him out, and he said it was perfectly legal,” Moore recalled. “The car turned out to belong to the mom of Girl Scouts selling cookies on my back deck.”

Even Montgomery Plaza customers weren’t safe. Keely said that a couple of his customers who had visited establishments located in the plaza earlier in the evening were victimized by the tow-trucks later.

The wreckers were “yanking cars out of there at 1:45 [a.m.],” Keely said, 15 minutes before closing time.

The 7th Street Business Association intends on protesting Montgomery Plaza’s new parking restrictions. Tschetter, who’s on the association’s board, believes the first step is establishing a dialogue. “We just want to ask if there’s anything we can do to help,” he said.

Montgomery Plaza, Tschetter continued, “is doing something that really and truthfully is going to backfire and hurt themselves and at the same time hurt everybody on 7th Street. … All it’s going to do is hurt the area and in no way help the area.”

Tschetter believes that only one business in Montgomery Plaza, BoomerJack’s Grill & Bar, operates late at night, at a time when business in the West 7th corridor begins to pick up. “And as far as I know, [BoomerJack’s has] “never had an issue with parking,” he said.

Twenty minutes before this story was posted, the Weekly left a message for a representative from Montgomery Plaza. Any response will be published in an additional story.

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21 Comments


  1.  
    Matt

    Tow truck drivers are the lowest form of scum. This is absolutely ridiculous. There was finally an entertainment area of Fort Worth that ACTUALLY had parking, and then this happens. I don’t get the point. Sounds like a ploy just to rape people for money. I don’t know where that money is going though.




  2.  

    Not cool at all and not how you support local business in a stumbling economy! Montgomery Plaza should welcome anyone visiting or parking in that lot as they ultimately return to frequent their restaurants,shops and retail stores. Perhaps we should begin making W 7th a pedestrian only zone on Friday and Saturday evenings. that would be cool for all involved! I am not happy to hear this type of activity taking place in my hometown… Perhaps Montgomery Plaza and the tow companies who participated in this activity should consider the public relations nightmare that may follow this event…
    This city roots run deep and so do its citizens ability to organize in protest of this type of thoughtless behavior.
    I urge all of us to share this blotch before we all find ourselves paying $10.00 or $250.00 plus dollars (for a towing fee!?) to park in the W.7th. district. You want our business I want free accessible parking. I am willing to walk to get somewhere in the vicinity i am not willing to risk being towed for trying to support local business! That is all.
    Respectfully concerned citizen,
    - Jody Jones




  3.  
    Tracy G.

    There needs to be public parking there and they SHOULD have known that before allowing all of that development. I understand liability but that could be easily taken care of with a sign like found at grocery store lots-park at your own risk. I also understand they don’t want their spaces taken up by customers who are not shopping with their tenants but it’s an inefficient use of the space to have empty parking lots when there are businesses in the area that are open when the retail stores are closed?

    Those people that were towed are probably their customers, too, but I bet they think twice about patronizing those stores that can be found elsewhere in the city.




  4.  
    cp

    Montgomery Plaza has every right to restrict parking to only those patronizing only the businesses in Montgomery Plaza. Problem is, this is the worst possible way to do it. If it hasn’t already, it will inevitably end up getting someone towed who doesn’t deserve to be towed – an actual Montgomery Plaza patron. It’s just a terrible way to treat your past, present, and future customers.

    Moreover, NOBODY heard anything about this before it happened, and people have parked there to go everywhere on W7th since…2006(?). It just seems like courtesy and a little advanced warning would have resulted in a lot less heartburn for everyone.




  5.  
    AT

    I believe adequate prior notice of a change in policy is required, especially when common practice over an expanse of years is taken into account. Certainly paper signs on the “day of” do not qualify. It might be worthwhile for all those involved to fight Montgomery Wards on this, perhaps even a class action suit, to seek reimbursement for fees and damage to vehicles.




  6.  
    Reader

    And what Montgomery Plaz business is open until 1AM that requires all of those parking spots? Common sense folks.




  7.  
    Mr Childress

    im wondering why the bars around there didnt have to get more parking. isnt there an ordinance when you open your biz saying that you have to provide X amount of parking spaces? take away the plaza, and the options there are pretty limited. when they opened, did they just say “screw it, people can park across the street, not my problem”?




  8.  
    Beth Coates

    I don’t usually read much,but while looking came across this.Simple yes simple let it be,if it’s been for years like that.Unless your rich, people don’t generally have that kind of cash And with our World and all the problems we usually have,can’t you see your making more for yourselves as well as all the victims of Highway Robbery.Can’t people just learn to help others,no matter what?If they have been able to use parking lot before what the F is the big deal anyway.Everyone out there needs to just learn to help others,not take advantage of a situation like that.Certainly not right to do if people in back rows couldn’t see the signs.If you ask me they should of put up one of those road display signs the highway dept.has so people would definately see there would be no more parking there.And maybe even put it on the news or other media I feel sorry for all those people that probably could barely afford to get out just to have a break from their tough week or kids,death anything!People should be mad,I would be furious!




  9.  
    Stacy

    If I’m going to be towed for parking in front of Starbucks, buying a cup of coffee, then walking down the street while I drink it… well there are lots of other Starbucks to patronize I guess. And lots of other walkable neighborhoods that want my business for their local shops/restaurants. Sadly most of them are in Dallas. Seems Fort Worth just wants to keep people in their cars.




  10.  
    Suz

    I was at the Food Truck Park near Montgomery Plaza on Friday night, and they were towing people who parked in the (closed) businesses’ parking lots too.




  11.  
    Jerry

    We were at TacoHeads and there was a super awesome surprise proposal with a couple and a bunch of their friends – the friends came out of 7th Haven as the guy knelt down to propose. We saw the photographer setting up beforehand and several of the friends walked over from M.Plaza. They were discussing going to eat at Gloria’s afterwards, but I bet some of them were towed because they crossed the street first. Happy Engagement – here’s a $300 towing charge!!!




  12.  
    Jimmy

    Only solution ..FREE city parking at farrington field, 7th St businesses run FREE shuttle ….problem solved




  13.  
    CatsPaw

    Please, for cripe’s sake, cars have *brakes.* Towing them with the parking brake engaged may *break* them, but c’mon.

    And yeah, this is definitely not cool, Montgomery Plaza. Somehow, I doubt most of the cars towed were right up near the building and resident businesses. Bad publicity is not your friend.




  14.  
    Stephen

    So Montgomery Plaza is supposed to provide parking for patrons up and down 7th Street because they happen to have a large parking lot? I guess they are required to provide lighting, security, maintenance, etc. for customers of different businesses. I noticed 7th Haven put up a sign badmouthing Montgomery Plaza about the towing. How much parking does the owner of that building provide for his customers? In fact, how much parking did he get rid of to put the taco truck in the back of his building. I am sure the owner is paying his pro-rata share of the parking that his patrons use in the Montgomery Plaza parking lot.

    Next time I go to a friends house and their driveway is full, I will just park in his neighbors driveway.




  15.  
    Riverside

    Aw can’t you rich westsiders keep your squabbles down? We’re trying to sleep over here.




  16.  
    Kyle

    Someone should follow the tow truck around the parking lot in their own car. Every time he tries to back into position to tow a car, pull forward and block. Repeat ad naseum.




  17.  
    Chris

    Wow! If there is not adequate parking for your business and your patrons use Montgomery Plaza, you might suggest a fee you pay to the Plaza for use of their parking lot. For Montgomery Plaza to tow and I’m sure in many cases, damage vehicles, is just bad business. Typical Dallas(owners) mentality. This only hurts your tenants who rely on the patrons who frequent the area.




  18.  
    Anthony

    Mr. Childress. The West 7th corridor is zoned MU-2, which means businesses are not required to provide x-amount of parking per square foot of building/business space. The intent of the ordinance is to get people walking, in keeping with Fort Worth’s “urban village” concept (and to eliminate the costs associated with providing surface parking).




  19.  
    Clif

    I won’t be going back to Montgomery Plaza. If Montgomery Plaza wants to be the parking nazi, even to the point of towing cars of customers that actually been at a Montgomery Plaza business, then fine. I’ll be shopping elsewhere.




  20.  
    Richard

    If Montgomery Plaza businesses don’t want people parking in their lots and visiting their establishments and/or others across the street, I’ll be happy to accommodate them.

    I’ll gladly park elsewhere and not patronize Montgomery Plaza at all. Heck, I’d be glad to pay for parking elsewhere, if that’s their policy.

    Same for the Parking Nazis in the garages.

    A lot of people park and visit numerous places in a park-and-walk environment. Nobody should be penalized for not visiting them in the right order or not visiting one set at all on a particular trip.





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