I am writing this letter to you in hope of changing a certain behavior in Westport.

I know it is sadly in many/most other towns across the nation but I will start here since I live here. I have witnessed this gross and consistent abuse of our handicapped spaces around town first hand, but none so much than at the back parking lot where Achorn's Pharmacy, Chase Bank, Eileen Fischer, Papyrus and Simon Pierce are located.

I go to this parking lot frequently to shop and do my banking. On EVERY occasion there have been non-handicapped cars parking in both handicapped stalls in the back by Achorn's and Chase Bank. I will say this, there are no blue handicapped signs on the buildings in front of the spaces so it would be more obvious to people that these are legally designated spaces, but there are handicapped symbols on the spaces themselves. Now I admit they are faded, but I can see them ... so you can too.

Across the parking lot on the other side where the offices are located is a clearly designated handicapped parking space with a blue sign. It is visible and I witnessed no one parking illegally there (granted why would they it would be farther away from the shopping/banking locations).

So I call to action residents and shoppers of Westport to police these spots themselves in a respectful manner. Once we all let others know (and teach our kids for that matter) that it is not OK for anyone to park in these spaces for even a minute to make it easier for the ambulatory instead of severely inconveniencing the non-ambulatory.

Example: It's raining and you need to go to Chase ATM so you say, "Oh it's only for a second." Now within that few minutes (not a second) that you are in the handicapped space a legitimate handicapped person drives in sees your car parked there and has no idea when you will be leaving. They now have to find a non-handicapped parking stall and maneuver their wheelchair out in the pouring rain in one tight space way in the back away from the stores. I really hope you see the problem here. It is not your place to judge if the person with the handicapped placard is handicapped or not ... you know YOU aren't so let it end there and do the right thing.

If we all begin to hold people accountable in a respectful manner, e.g.: "Oh excuse me I know that marking is faded and you probably didn't see it, but that is a handicapped spot you are parking in." This will hopefully do the trick. Yes, there are some handicapped drivers who forget to put their cards on the rearview mirror but if you approach them they should hopefully be grateful and realize that you are just watching out for them.

It is my fervent hope this positive change occurs due to a renewed sense of moral responsibility and not shame.

Tory Lee