In the wake of a controversial towing spree two weekends ago at Montgomery Plaza in the West 7th Street corridor (“Wreckers Haul Away Dozens from Montgomery Plaza,” Blotch, Monday, Jan. 13), the massive entertainment/residential complex anchored by the old Montgomery Ward building took a kinder, gentler approach this past weekend, as promised (“Montgomery Plaza’s New Parking Tact,” Blotch, Thursday, Jan. 19).
Still, some people weren’t satisfied. On Friday night, spotters hired by Montgomery Plaza to patrol the parking area in question –– about 100 spots on the western and southwestern sides of the complex that has about 400-plus spots total –– warned 33 people that they had illegally parked and needed to either relocate their vehicles or risk being towed, according to Fort Worth police office Ken Jacobs, the NPO for West 7th, nearby So7, and the nearby Cultural District. Twelve of those people, however, “chose to walk off and leave their cars,” Jacobs wrote in his most recent e-newsletter to about 600 recipients on his beat. “None were towed, but that is pretty sad that 12 felt it was OK to keep walking.”
Jimmy Moore, owner of the nearby 7th Haven, described the spotters as “courteous.” Moore is known for broadcasting deep thoughts on his bar’s conspicuous marquee and had recently posted “Car Towing Alert: Montgomery Plaza is Towing Customers’ Cars. Park There at Your Own Risk.” But, he said, “the [parking] situation is much better. I’m satisfied.” He pulled his rhetoric Saturday morning.
Part of the credit for the improved relations over the weekend, NPO Jacobs believes, should go to Lone Star Towing, the company just hired by Montgomery Ward to replace Tarrant County Abandoned Vehicle Removal (TCAR), the perpetrators of the previous weekend’s massive tow-off. Montgomery Ward fired TCAR after learning that TCAR wreckers had performed aggressively. They yanked cars instead of securing them properly as required by law, and at least one TCAR wrecker had used a Slim Jim to break into a vehicle to release its parking brake for easier towing. “Unfortunately,” Jacobs wrote, “the tow company did a despicable job on their part and created significant bad press for the West 7th area, not just Montgomery Plaza.”
Jacobs is investigating TCAR for any potential administrative or criminal violations.
While Montgomery Plaza’s touch to illegal parkers will remain soft, Jacobs said, “responsible towing” will resume soon.
In the meantime, Jacobs is trying to organize a discussion among West 7th businesses about parking and safety. “The West 7th area needs to work as one,” he wrote.
Officer Jacobs thinks some people are just asking for trouble. In a phone conversation today (Tuesday, Jan. 24), he said that one woman over the weekend parked her vehicle in Montgomery Plaza’s lot and then “ran into 7th Haven.” Another driver of an illegally parked vehicle, Jacobs said, responded to a spotter’s request to move by saying, “I’ll take my chances.”
“I’m pretty confident,” Jacobs said, “that some people are trying to set up the tow company and get their 15 minutes of fame, post a video on YouTube or something.”
Jacobs is spearheading a campaign to solve the parking problem. He has arranged a powwow for Wednesday afternoon with several area businesses and associations, and he also has reached out to the Fort Worth school district and The T –– the school district owns nearby Farrington Field, whose massive parking lot is empty most of the time. Jacobs thinks The T might be able to provide some sort of shuttle service between the field and West 7th.