Man’s spat with City Hall festers Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff
Coalville resident Leon Simister has retained an attorney to represent him in a tiff with the city.
Last summer, Simister ruffled some tail feathers in North Summit by painting over some freshly striped parking stalls on Coalville’s Main Street. The man, who is a columnist at the Summit County Bee, claims city officials inappropriately blocked access to a driveway near his store when they started requiring angled parking in the town. "That was always talked about as one of the first steps because it would be inexpensive and would get people looking at the correct way to park," former Coalville Planning Commissioner Karen Brostrom said. "Mr. Simister painted over the lines that were in front of his business he had blacked out the city’s stripes and repainted his."
But Simister, who owns Simister’s Gifts Etc., in Coalville, has mostly opposed some officials’ attempts to revitalize downtown.
"They haven’t solved it," Simister said Monday, about his dispute with the city, adding that the city left about half of the driveway access free when stalls were repainted in front of his store. "We’re actually the only person or business in Coalville whose driveway they eliminated."
Brostrom claims Simister didn’t respect the new stalls before he painted over them, adding, "he was just parking sideways over them all." "It’s offensive. It’s city property. You don’t own a street as a business owner. You need to be part of the plan that everybody’s agreed upon." Brostrom said. Simister says he’s offended by "selective enforcement" in the town.
"We’ve had usage of that driveway for over 16 years," Simister said during a telephone interview. "It makes us feel victimized all we want is fairness, that’s all we want."
But Simister is often unfair in his criticism of the city in the newspaper, Brostrom explained. "He’s never attended any of our meetings to just flat out ignore the process and then use your column to badmouth us, I’ve felt slighted more than once," she complained. "He’s kind of using the weight of [the column] to badmouth city projects that are going through a legitimate process." "I’m quite open with my criticism of some of the things the city fathers have been doing," responded Simister. "Freedom of speech is for everyone except those of us who write a column. Apparently, that’s the Coalville slant on it."
Shortly after he painted over the yellow lines, Summit County sheriff’s Sgt. Sherm Farnsworth paid his store a visit, Simister said, adding that the Coalville City Attorney’s Office filed a complaint with the sheriff. "As far as I know, there wasn’t a citation issued, it was just a conversation," Sheriff’s Office Capt. Joe Offret said, labeling the dispute a civil matter. "We don’t have the authority to enforce city ordinances."
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