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updated: 7/9/2014 10:48 PM

Glen Ellyn woman upset with roped-off parkways at parade

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By Safiya Merchant
smerchant@dailyherald.com

A Glen Ellyn woman says the selfishness of some residents who staked out large areas in their parkways to watch the village's Fourth of July parade -- to the exclusion of others -- left her disappointed and disillusioned.

But village officials say they think the issues the woman and her parents had in trying to find a comfortable spot to watch the parade resulted more from a misunderstanding than any issue with the village's enforcement practices or the friendliness of its residents.

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Rosemary Orbegoso, 51, said she drove along the route the day before the parade to find a place where she and her parents could sit that was within walking distance of her sister's house.

Orbegoso said she was looking for a close spot because she recently underwent a medical procedure, her mother is 89 and her father is a 91-year-old veteran of World War II.

She said many residents on the 500 block of North Main Street had roped off the parkways in front of their houses to discourage others from watching the parade there.

Orbegoso called police to complain and was told authorities would look into the matter. She called again a couple of hours later and said she was told residents maintain the public parkways throughout the year and can have "first dibs" for watching the parade in front of their own houses.

That didn't make Orbegoso happy.

"What happens is the more land, public area, you take up, it forces all the crowds on to less and less space," she said.

Although another family member ended up taking her parents to the parade, Orbegoso decided not to attend.

Village Manager Mark Franz said he knows some people rope off parts of their parkways, but he doesn't necessarily think they do it to keep the site to themselves.

"I know personally that ... if you go up and take a spot, they're not going to kick you out," Franz said. "At least that's not been my experience over the last three years."

Although Franz said roping off parkways is not something the village polices, it "might investigate" if residents don't allow others to sit in the spots.

"We are not aware that that's happening to a large degree," he said.

"We're spread pretty thin during the parade and before and after with the fireworks and everything else," he said, "so we really kind of advise citizens to work it out with themselves."

Franz said he believes residents have some right to cordon off part of their parkways.

"If they maintain the parkways, cut the grass, weed, water, etc., and it's in front of their properties, I think that's reasonable," he said.

Deputy Police Chief Bill Holmer said there are ordinances prohibiting obstruction of public ways such as sidewalks and parkways, but "my belief is that those ordinances aren't created with the spirit of watching a celebratory Independence Day parade, meaning they're not made to prohibit setting up chairs or blankets to sit and watch a parade come by."

Holmer said he thinks residents who rope off parkways are just trying to ensure they have a spot in front of their house, not necessarily excluding others from using the space.

"Quite frankly, if the particular resident happens to have a parkway full of their own guests, so be it," he said.

Orbegoso, however, said she thinks it's wrong.

"You shouldn't have to fight for a place to put your elderly parents to watch a parade," she said.

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