Town Hits Mason Avenue Parkers with $$ Fines; Shoppers, Merchants Outraged

Cape Charles Wave

June 22, 2015

Up until Thursday, June 18, motorists parking front-ways in the new reverse angle parking on Mason Avenue were not breaking the law, because there was no law. Cape Charles Town Council fixed that at their Thursday meeting, voting 4-1 to enact a new ordinance entitled “Parking on Town Streets.” Only Councilman Frank Wendell opposed it. The only question before the vote also came from Wendell, who asked Town Manager Brent Manuel about VDOT’s approval of reverse angle parking, which was done by telephone. Wendell asked for the name of the VDOT official, but Manuel said he did not recall.

Following the meeting, Cape Charles Police immediately began ticketing wrong-way parkers, to the anguish of Mason Avenue merchants and, eventually, Mayor George Proto, who a month earlier sounded concerned when Police Chief Jim Pruitt reported to Town Council that nine parking tickets were written the first week after the new lines were painted on the street. “The town did not do this to make money,” Proto said at the time. This makes the second time Proto is asking the Police Force to stand down on ticketing and to void the tickets they have written.

But some damage has already been done. One story circulating on Mason Avenue is that a man parked front-ways to run into Gull Hummock to buy a case of wine. When he came back to his car he found a ticket, which made him so mad that he carried the wine back into the store, asked for his money back, and promised never to shop again in Cape Charles.

One merchant observed a police car parked in front of the medical center for over an hour with the engine running. Whenever the policeman saw a “wrong-way” parker he would immediately walk over and write a ticket.

Town Manager Manuel also announced that backwards parking would be implemented on Bay Avenue as well beginning this fall.


Members of Cape Charles Business Association turned out in force for the June 18 Council meeting, but none of them spoke against the town’s new parking policy. Instead, the focus was on the loss of the contract by one of their own for the tourist website “Cape Charles by the Bay.” Town Manager Manuel awarded the website contract June 2 to Cape Charles Wave LLC, which also publishes the Wave newspaper. The tourism website is currently managed by Donna and Greg Kohler, who were instrumental in its founding two years ago. The website began with grant funding but now operates at town taxpayers’ expense. The Kohlers submitted a bid of $9,790 for another year, while Cape Charles Wave LLC’s bid was $5,300.


The town’s hope from the beginning was that the Business Association would take over the website, removing the cost from the town budget. But the Business Association is a non-profit organization, and there are legal questions about its assumption — not to mention whether it could afford to shoulder the cost. Business Association members who spoke at the Council meeting instead simply wanted the town to void the contract with Cape Charles Wave LLC and hand it to the Kohlers, who operate under the name “Flash of G Marketing LLC.”

Business Association President Andrew Follmer claimed that Cape Charles Wave LLC “lacked the necessary qualifications and experience, and have posted statements that are biased, inaccurate, and inflammatory towards individuals, businesses and the town. I have requested to have my listing removed from the site and want my money refunded.” Follmer owns the Boardwalk gift shop.

Miriam Elton of Brown Dog Ice Cream told Council she wanted her ad removed from the website. Cynthia Dempster, proprietor of the newly opened Seagrass Floral Studio, said she would remove her [free] listing as well.

Eyre Baldwin, representing ESLAND Development Co., said: “We have a lot of good going on in Cape Charles. We have to put personalities on one side and principles on the other. The person that won the contract has shown spite, and at times, massive inaccuracies. We are a small town and we have good things going on. We need to look at how this gets done. We need to look at the lowest, and best bid. We worry, what is going to happen on Monday morning and someone wakes up to a story with inaccuracies. It is time to move forward together. How can we do this together? I asked you three days ago Mayor — I haven’t heard back from you yet.”

Tammy Holloway of Bay Haven Inn bed and breakfast said her guests are “worried when they get here because of the biased reporting they have read. The Wave has worked very hard to portray human interest stories in the last year — for that, we are thankful. The [previous] year, however, the overall negative and unfounded reporting created an unfavorable view of our wonderful community. I am asking that you remove our listing.”

The Shanty’s Jon Dempster followed: “I am here to object to the awarding of the contract for the Cape Charles by the Bay website to the people that manage the company that runs the Cape Charles Wave. The website has no business dealing with people that have a history of biased and inaccurate reporting, and inflammatory statements. I am requesting that my paid and free listing be removed. I have read the contract and there is a clause for termination without cause. I believe Council should listen to the people here and make a motion to terminate this thing now so that we can move forward in a positive light.”

Bruce Evans of Cape Charles House bed and breakfast said that he and his wife will also withdraw both their paid and free listings. “I feel like awarding this contract to the chosen vender is a vendetta. How many people were in on the decision to do this? I have gone to [Assistant Town Manager Bob] Panek three times — there is more to this than meets the eye.”

Similar statements were made by Shane and Malcolm Hayward (Eastern Shore Custom Carts) and Andy Buchholz (Eastern Shore Signs). “Just do a [Google] search and the top 10 or 20 things that pop up are the Cape Charles Wave,” Buchholz said, complaining that the news reports were not favorable.

Council member Joan Natali, who operates her own website, Cape Charles Happenings, implied that she would do what she could to scuttle the contract. “I am so happy all of you have come here tonight to express your outrage. I will do whatever I can to change this,” she said.

Following the oral statements, Clerk Libby Hume read the following letter from George and Dorie Southern:

Dear Cape Charles Town Council,

We were very pleased to be notified that our family company, Cape Charles Wave LLC, was awarded the contract for Cape Charles by the Bay Website Maintenance, Support and Social Media Marketing. A contract was signed with the town on June 10, and we have already begun selling advertising. Our goal is to double the number of ads currently on the website.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that Cape Charles Wave LLC should not be confused with the online newspaper we publish under the name Cape Charles Wave. This is important to understand, because the Wave newspaper will have no connection to the Cape Charles By the Bay tourism website. The two websites will be wholly separate endeavors, albeit both under the management of Cape Charles Wave LLC.

The situation is similar to this past year when Cape Charles By the Bay was serviced by Flash of G Marketing, owned by the Kohlers, who also own Fig Street Inn. That did not mean that the Fig Street Inn was in charge of Cape Charles By the Bay. In the same way, our online Wave newspaper will not be running Cape Charles By the Bay.

In winning the bid for web services, we noted that our family company’s editor and publisher are professionally trained journalists. The webmaster is a Ph.D. candidate in computer engineering with work experience both at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, and Samsung’s computer headquarters in San Jose. Graphics expertise is provided by a former graphics artist for Walt Disney World. We want to make it clear that our family operation is well qualified to assume this contract.

During its three years of operation Cape Charles Wave has publicized some 400 events in and near the town of Cape Charles. We are also experienced in social media, using Facebook to promote stories and readership.

We are excited about the opportunity to invigorate the Cape Charles By the Bay website by greatly increasing the advertising contained on it. As owners of vacation rental property in Cape Charles, we are particularly desirous of seeing the town attract more visitors, and appreciate this opportunity to be part of that effort.



15 Responses to “Town Hits Mason Avenue Parkers with $$ Fines; Shoppers, Merchants Outraged”

  1. Dana Lascu on June 22nd, 2015 1:02 am

    Congrats, Wave, on the award! Looking forward to your new venture — I’ve just friended the site and recommended it to my friends. Your website development skills are impressive — the number of impressions will soar under your attentive and precise penmanship and management. Interesting that the wise business decisions are now made by the new town management. Hopefully, local businesses will follow its lead.

  2. Karen Gay on June 22nd, 2015 4:13 am

    I second Dana’s congratulations. The Wave competed fair and square and won the contract saving taxpayers over $4000. Give this company a chance to show what it can do to benefit town businesses.

  3. Jimmy Parks on June 22nd, 2015 7:30 am

    Parking in Cape Charles
    Back in the day all cars and trucks were the same size. Now we have small cars and average and large and huge SUV’s. What concerns me is a child may run out between one of these and get hurt. As for parking on the beach front I think you should be able to just pull in — not reverse parking like Mason Ave. Guess we will have to wait and see?

  4. Gene Kelly on June 22nd, 2015 10:24 am

    Ticketing tourists for parking “Nose In” is sheer brilliance! I spent a good portion of my “free time” this weekend trying to make nice with folks who assured me, “We will never return to this Jerkwater town again.” Guess what — I believe them!

  5. Tracy Lewis on June 22nd, 2015 11:41 am

    Sounds like to me they better turn this little venture back around or you’re not going to have any customers or merchants to deal with. What an idiotic move.

  6. Joe Coccaro on June 22nd, 2015 2:27 pm

    While driving to Richmond about a week ago I noticed something very curious at a VDOT public rest area off of I-64: nose-in parking. Now — who was it who told Cape Charles officials that nose-in angle parking is not permitted in the great Commonwealth, that it’s unsafe? Very curious!

  7. Mary Finney on June 22nd, 2015 3:15 pm

    Despite continued opposition and outrage to this ridiculous parking plan, the town is not only turning a deaf ear, but is doubling down on enforcement of it. Why does Cape Charles keep shooting itself in the foot? Shaking my head.

  8. Joe Banks on June 22nd, 2015 3:35 pm

    Virginia public rest areas are required by law to have nose-in angle parking…(drum roll please)…otherwise, Cape Charles residents couldn’t use the facilities.
    (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself)

  9. Richard Tracy on June 22nd, 2015 3:39 pm

    Reverse Angle Parking

    I’ve followed the coverage of the Mason Avenue parking changes with some amusement. Having lived the first two decades of my life in a large urban area, then moved to another large urban area for the next quarter century, I’m very familiar with all types of parking. In the scheme of things, this is a small issue, but since we are devoting so much time and energy to it, allow me to contribute my two cents to the discussion.

    Reverse Angle Parking (RAP) is a method used to:
    1) Create more parking spaces in areas typically occupied by parallel parking locations.
    2) Reduce the number of accidents and injuries related to parking by providing drivers an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic, bicyclist and/or pedestrians.
    3) Offer convenience and safety when it comes to loading and unloading vehicles, with the back of the vehicle pointing toward the sidewalk and an open car door acting as a barrier to busy streets

    First, RAP can create up to 3 spaces for every 1 parallel parking space. Imagine a Ford F-350 crew cab long bed parallel parked on Mason Avenue. That truck is 263 inches long. Now allow maneuvering space of 2 feet on each end and you’re looking at well over 300 inches to park one vehicle. That’s 25 feet! RAP creates additional parking space by turning the truck 60 to 80 degrees and placing the narrow aspect of the vehicle against the curb. Now we’re accommodating the 80 inch width of the truck instead of the 263 inch length, and we can double or potentially even triple the parking space along that curb.

    Now visualize the driver of that 24 foot long Ford F350 crew cab attempting to parallel park into an existing parking space on Mason Avenue. Let’s say (for the purposes of this exercise) that the space is 30 feet long (Good luck finding a 30 foot long parking space…) As the driver backs in, they are far more likely to use the front bumper of the vehicle parked behind them as a “range finder”, and as they shift into forward to bring the front end of the truck toward the curb, they are likely to hit the rear bumper of the vehicle parked in front of them. This is such a common occurrence that people who reside in areas where parallel parking is commonplace have resorted to purchasing “bumper buddies” – unattractive rubber pads that protect a vehicle’s bumper from damage due to “assertive” attempts at parallel parking. RAP eliminates the need for the bumper buddy, and damage to the vehicle’s bumper, by having the driver back into a space and using the curb as a fixed boundary of the space.

    Finally, cars that park on a head-in angle are less aware of surrounding traffic as they back out of the parking space. Instead of a Ford F-350 Crew Cab for this scenario, let’s imagine (if you will) a Honda Passport (or a Chevrolet Traverse, or some other CUV) that is parked on your right (head in) on Mason Avenue. You are beside it in your Chevrolet Malibu, and you’ve just bought a case of ant traps at Watson’s Hardware Store or a case of your favorite Malbec at Gull Hummock. The kids are bouncing around in the back seat and your spouse is impatiently waiting in the front passenger seat. You exit Watson’s (Gull Hummock) and while walking into the street to place the case of ant traps (Malbec) into your trunk, nearly get sideswiped by the work truck rumbling down Mason Ave. Once you regain your composure, you load the trunk, enter your vehicle and sit in the drivers seat. You place the Malibu in reverse, turn your head to look over your right shoulder, and… all you can see is the side panel of the vehicle beside you. Blindly, you back up, cursing the Honda beside you, and thinking “please please please don’t let there be any cars coming”. As you back into the westbound lane of Mason Avenue, you can see rail road cars and cars parked on the eastbound side of the road, but you still can’t see if anything is approaching in your lane. Finally, as you pass the rear bumper of the Passport, you are able to see the westbound lane of Mason Avenue – and (this time) you’re clear – luckily there were no oncoming cars, bicycles or golf carts. As you unpucker (yes, this is a technical term), the thought crosses your mind “why didn’t I back into that spot? I would’ve been able to see the traffic much sooner”.

    RAP (backing in) allows visibility of oncoming and approaching traffic as you’re backing into your desired parking space, and provides a measure of safety to bicyclists and golf cart operators because they are alerted to your intentions as you brake and shift into reverse. When you drive forward to exit the parking space, you have visibility of oncoming traffic much sooner than if you were to back out of that same space. Greater visibility for the driver of the automobile means greater safety for those already in the lane, including other drivers, bicyclists and golf cart operators. Additionally, having the trunk at the sidewalk facilitates loading/unloading your vehicle (unless you drive a Porsche Boxster – you Porsche Boxster owners understand) and prevents you from damaging the front fascia of your vehicle on the curb.

    I’ve provided sound reasons for why reverse angled parking makes sense; however, I know there are people in this town who like to squabble over inconsequential stuff. For them I simply say “if you still don’t like reverse angled parking, Cape Charles has other streets where you can park – Pine Street, Strawberry Street, Peach Street, etc”. And, if you feel uncomfortable backing into a parking space, you should probably FedEx your Virginia Drivers License to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles P.O. Box 27412 Richmond, VA 23269.

  10. Mike Kuzma on June 22nd, 2015 7:27 pm

    Thank you, Mr. Tracy,
    The tone and tenor of your commentary validates the poor opinion of the “come here’s” held by far too many Cape Charlesians, and makes it far more difficult for we defenders of same.
    Snark much?

  11. Patricia Abraham on June 22nd, 2015 8:08 pm

    I feel that if you park forward or backward either way does not matter because when you are pulling out on to Mason from a side street you can’t see anyway. You are in the middle of the road in traffic before you can see around the car. Yea great improvement!

  12. Richard Tracy on June 23rd, 2015 10:21 am

    When facts are irrefutable, attack the “tone and tenor”. Ad hominem 101.

    Patricia Abraham makes a good point. If the town stays with the RAP, perhaps they should create a “no parking” zone on the eastern side of the intersection to allow for greater visibility of approaching traffic.

  13. Mike Kuzma on June 23rd, 2015 2:53 pm

    I spoke not a word about the parking sir since I believe in local control, not far off solons ruling via fiat.
    But fret not sir. The invective cast by you, and the silliness of the constabulary will soon render the issue moot.
    Plenty of parking, reverse angle or otherwise, in a town devoid of visitors or commerce. But who could fail to see the wisdom of ‘taking’ parking (via the sight easement you refer to) to increase parking? Very classic liberal thinking.
    The town failed for decades to obtain some agreement regarding the lot across from the CC hotel, so now we have this debacle, with the added incentive of parking violation revenue.

    “Those who surrender liberty for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
    –B. Franklin.

  14. Kathleen Bahri on June 23rd, 2015 8:02 pm

    Congrats to Cape Charles Wave LLC on being awarded the contract. Their qualifications are peerless. The new site will attract more tourists — let’s hope that Reverse Angle Parking doesn’t make them stay away after coming here.

  15. Janet Sturgis on June 25th, 2015 9:55 pm

    Being from the upper part of Northampton County, a friend snd I decided to take an after dinner cruise through Cape Charles this evening, as we were anxious to see and experience the new reverse angle parking. Well, we partook without incident, and rewarded ourselves with some Brown Dog ice cream. Perhaps some enterprising Cape Chuckian should print and sell “I survived Cape Charles’ Reverse Angle Parking” bumper stickers.