West side neighborhood upset that semi trucks keep parking in vacant lot

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – People who live in a west side neighborhood are upset that semi trucks keep parking illegally in a nearby vacant lot.

Homeowners near South Mickley Avenue and West Morris Street say a car rental place used to be located at the intersection. At some point years ago, the building was torn down and the lot was left empty. A private owner took over. Since then, a handful of tractor-trailers have been using it as their personal rest stop.

“They told me they’ll park wherever they want, drive wherever they want and there is nothing I can do about it,” John Kramer told CBS4.

Kramer said the trucks drag dirt and clumps of mud onto the street when they leave. He said it’s worse after it rains.

“It’s like driving on a cobblestone road,” he said.

CBS4 saw the mess firsthand. Not only were there several huge mud pits, but trash and even old boxers littered the lot. Several neighbors stopped and pleaded with our reporters, asking for help.

“They’re not supposed to be parking here,” Marsha Spears said. “There are no parking signs posted on all the signs leading into the lot, but they ignore them.”

CBS4 called the tow truck company listed on the no parking signs. An operator said that lot is the “problem child of the west side.” She provided the lot owner’s name and phone number. Jerry Lashley doesn’t live close to the lot, so he is not able to keep a constant eye on it. He told CBS4 he has tried to prevent the trucks from parking there before. He installed a fence, chains and a pole, but Lashley said the trucks plowed them over and parked in his lot anyway.

CBS4 found out that due to a city ordinance, police are not able to do much without the owner’s permission. IMPD needs to sign a no trespass agreement with Lashley and then have enough officers to patrol the area. Our reporter forwarded IMPD Lashley’s information in hopes of connecting the two.

“Unfortunately, in this case, the property owner either has to be here and or have someone here to sign off on towing the vehicles,” said City-County Councilor Jared Evans. “Right now, it comes down to this property owner.”

Evans, who represents District 22, said the vacant lot has been on his radar for a while.

“It’s frustrating. It makes you angry. Nobody should be doing that. Nobody should be parking there,” he said.

Neighbors are concerned, too. They say the truck drivers have gotten confrontational before.

“I’ve been personally threatened by some of the drivers. They’ve come up to my car window when I was taking pictures of their trucks. They’ve threatened me, asked if I wanted to fight,” Spears said. “It’s very scary.”

Indianapolis’ Neighborhood and Business Services Department denied the lot was their responsibility. A spokesperson confirmed there has been at least one report of tall grass and weeds before but couldn’t find any other reports submitted into the Mayor’s Action Center. Residents say, though, they’ve filed dozens.

BNS added that because the lot is zoned as commercial, the semi-trucks aren’t violating any city codes.

“I see them overnight, I see them in the mornings, on the weekends,” Spears said. “I see them at all times of the day.”

CBS4 asked Evans what he plans to do for his constituents.

“We’re working on that right now,” he said.

He sent IMPD and the city emails trying to push things along. Evans said he plans to introduce something to the council to try to ban the trucks from parking there. He said the city is responsible for cleaning up the street, adding that the city doesn’t have the equipment to do so.