Danedri Thompson
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Semi-trucks can not park overnight in the Gardner Walmart parking lot. According to Dawn Wheeler, store manager, that’s always been the rule, but until recently it wasn’t enforced.
“We’ve decided to start enforcing the rule that has been in place since day one when the building opened,” Wheeler said.
A few weeks ago, Gardner Police frequently cleared the lot of trucks each day, issuing warnings. This week, police officers, at their discretion, can issue tickets to trucks that overstay their welcome in the large lot.
Gardner Police Officer Ilena Spalding said drivers who are doing business at the store are welcome to stop.
“That means making deliveries or if they need to go in there and go shop,” Spalding said.
But they can’t stay.
“They’re given an hour, hour-and-a-half, to conduct their business,” she explained. “If (officers) see a truck there, we note the time, and then if we go back, and they’re still there, we can give a warning or a citation.”
Walmart recently put up larger signs discouraging truck drivers from parking in the lot long term, and store officials requested that the police step up enforcement.
Wheeler said the lot was not constructed to handle the number of trucks that have been using it. Lot maintenance, due in part to heavy truck traffic, has been costly.
“This is mainly because I think most of the trucks were pulling in there and staying and the drivers were sleeping for eight hours,” Spalding said. “They can’t be there for eight hours. They can’t sleep in the lot.”
Technically, once a semi-truck leaves U.S. 56 Highway to make its way to the Walmart parking lot, the drivers are violating city rules, which stipulate which roads trucks are allowed to use.
Truck drivers can use any road as long as they are conducting business, but otherwise they are limited to U.S. 56 Highway, or Main Street; parts of Center Street or Gardner Road; and a few others.