After employees of a towing company were frequently spotted in the park, reportedly waiting for calls to pick up vehicles illegally parked, a group of homeowners took its complaints to the city.
“I have to say we have not seen this company here since this notice below,” Ida Smith, co-president of the Magnolia Park Homeowners Association, said Monday about an email from Marietta Parks and Recreation Director Rich Buss. “Looks like the Marietta Police Department has addressed the current Crown Towing issue.”
Buss said Maj. Marty Ferrell had a conversation with Stacy Tillman, the owner of Marietta-based Crown Towing and Recovery.
“They agreed the truck should not park there and will address it with the driver,” Buss wrote Friday. “I don’t expect him to park there any longer.”
Smith had alleged in two emails earlier this month to City Councilman Andy Morris that the company was using the amenity’s parking lot for work activities.
“The situation at Lewis Park with Crown Towing is getting ridiculous, and we are getting very disgusted with this company for its daily loitering,” she wrote Jan. 6. “Now Crown Towing is starting new habits and actually working their business at Lewis Park. On a daily basis, we see the towing service person towing the vehicles to Lewis Park where he repositions the towed vehicle in a very involved process. This process results in making loud noises and creating havoc in the parking lot.”
Future havoc could result as well, Smith said.
“There have been altercations out there. (Vehicle owners) get a sign their cars are towed, they hear they can find him at Lewis Park, and I’m afraid they’re going to attack him at the park,” she said about the tow truck driver.
Other residents of Magnolia Park, which overlooks the area, also objected.
“This type of behavior is not uncommon to this area,” homeowner Lisa Vitello wrote on Jan. 7. “There are laws in place that are constantly being broken. Why implement if the city has no intentions to enforce.”
In addition, Smith said one company may encourage others.
“Who’s to say there aren’t two or three other towing companies that are going to do the same?” she said.
Smith said she hoped the complaint process worked.
“I am following procedure and not taking anything into my own hands,” she said. “But if I see someone towing out there, they are going to hear from me.”
According to company spokesman Bret Tillman, it won’t be Crown.
“We haven’t been there since Thursday,” he said Monday.
Bret Tillman said the decision to pull back to its regular tow lot on Fairground Street and Commerce Park Drive followed a conversation with Ferrell.
“One of the commanders, a super-nice guy, called and told us they’re continually getting complaints and asked if there’s anything we can do. He understands we’re not doing anything illegal. He asked if we could find someplace else to sit. We said absolutely,” he said.
Bret Tillman denied there was work taking place at the park.
“We have a bunch of clients right around that area. They are property management companies. They call us when they have illegally parked cars, and we go pick them up. A lot of them are around that area. Instead of us going all the back to our tow lot, we hang out there and wait for calls,” he said.
Bret Tillman said his drivers have the right to park at the park during their down time.
“My guys sit there and eat their lunch or make phone calls until dispatch calls. They’re not doing anything different than any other service trucks,” he said about delivery and emergency vehicles also occupying its parking lot.
As far as working on a towed vehicle, Tillman said Smith had observed a safety check.
“Every once in a while when we get a car and the driver looks and sees it’s not 100 percent completely safe, he’ll lower it down and redo the straps,” Tillman said. “It’s never completely unhitched from the truck.”
Nevertheless, Smith said she was glad City Councilman Andy Morris planned to address the issue at the Marietta City Council parks and recreation committee meeting Feb. 7.
“We have been working with Morris and the other council members on the issue should this continue and/or if another towing company or any type of business should follow suit — using the park for their business purposes and not for the taxpayers’ intention of recreation and fun for park activities,” Smith said Monday. “We do not feel this is just a ‘parking’ issue, and we are waiting for any more discussions directed towards us. We do hope the agenda item is discussed at the next meeting as we still feel strongly that the city of Marietta should monitor these types of businesses/activities on park premises and research other reasons to deter inappropriate use of the public parks.”