So the government now says if I want a good parking spot, I need to sell my car and buy a hybrid. Guess which party dominates the county (and state).
Low-emission cars get prime parking at library
Green scene: Perry Hall branch rewarding environmentally friendly patrons
By Linda Garman Weimer
So, the prime parking spots at the new library are for Library Employee Vehicles?
Or, are the seven spots with signs reading "L.E.V. Vehicle Parking Only" for Library Emergency Vehicles?
Like, maybe, an ambulance for books with broken spines?
Or a Swat Team to chase loiterers at the library's computers?
"Everybody has been asking us what they're for," said Darcy Cahill, the branch manager.
The answer: low-emission vehicles.
The feature earned the library qualifying points in its designation as a "green building," as certified by a national organization known as LEEDS, Cahill said.
Patrons of the Perry Hall Library may not understand the rule, but they're not taking advantage of the confusion.
Mostly, the choice spots in the first row go empty. In a reporter's seven visits to the library, weekdays March 9-20, she has seen only three cars total using the spots.
That's three cars out of a possible 49 spots.
"I have no idea what they mean," said JoAnn Nuetzel, making her first visit to the library March 20 with husband George, both Parkville residents.
Told the signs are to encourage cars that are good for the environment, Nuetzel said, "Oh! Like cars with lots of people in them, like those special lanes on the highway?"
James Collins, of Perry Hall, said, "It's a reward for people with small, compact cars, like battery-operated."
Exactly what vehicles qualify is also open to discussion.
Cahill said she isn't sure which cars are supposed to park there, and has no plans to enforce the designation.
"I think that would be up to the police," she said.
The area's councilman, Vince Gardina, who has seen one of his bills supporting green buildings adopted by the County Council, said that only hybrid cars qualify as low-emission vehicles.
The prime parking spots "are an incentive to get more people to buy and use hybrids," Gardina said. It was one of the features -- like the shower for employees who bicycle to work -- that earned the library points toward green certification, he said.
Another library patron, also an engineer, agreed with Gardina.
Shawn Ruehl, entering the library with wife Robin and their three children March 20, said he believed that only hybrid electric-gasoline or all-electric cars belonged in the spots.
"They're just not for any plain, fuel-efficent car," Ruehl said. The engineer said he designs energy-efficient heating and cooling systems for a living,
But the library's director of facilities said fuel-efficient cars do qualify.
After looking back on the architect's plans for the building, director Andy Spera said the drawing labeled the prime parking spots "for fuel-efficient vehicles."
Project architect Erin Rinehart, of Gaudreau Inc., of Baltimore, said, "I'd have to look into it. There's probably a list (of cars that qualify) I can find."
She suggested that a reporter do a Google search on the words "low emitting vehicles," which turned up the Web site of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The page that resulted, labeled "green vehicles," offered users three ways to research cars, trucks and SUVs - by looking up a specific vehicle model and year, or by a column promising the "greenest vehicles."
After pointing out that both low pollution and frugal gas consumption are important, both lists produced scores of cars adorned with a green leaf on the "greenest vehicle" page.
For 2006 vehicles, the approved cars ranged from Acuras and Audis through Chevrolets, Fords, Hondas, Mercurys, Pontiacs, the Lexus and more. The only brands not represented seemed to be Chrysler, Cadillac and Lincoln.
The "green list" for 2008 models was even bigger, and even Chrysler, Dodge and Lincoln had at least one model listed.
To check for yourself, go to www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Index
All these details don't much interest Jim Fish, library director, at the moment.
"My priority has been to get the new branch open and functioning as it's supposed to. Get back to me in a couple weeks," Fish said.