Bill Lerner believes that those who have felt the impact of the harsh winter the most are the ones who have to drive in it.
Lerner, owner of the iPark parking garage chain, has started a program to help drivers dig out vehicles that have been buried in snow or ice across the city, including a few locations in Queens, for free.
When motorists call, Lerner will send two of his employees to meet them and help shovel their vehicles out of parking spots on the street.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of people getting stuck in snow and ice banks that you can’t shovel out of,” he said. “We have these garages all over the city that have managers and workers who have free time on their hands during non-prime time hours, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Most iPark garages are in Manhattan, but Lerner operates three in Rego Park and two in Forest Hills that are also participating in the free shoveling program. He said any driver parked within five blocks of one of his garages is welcome to call for assistance and can arrange a time to meet that works for them.
Lerner said he began thinking about helping snowed-in drivers when he began to realize he had seen cars stuck in the same parking spots for weeks at a time.
“I was just feeling bad for the community and wanted to offer services to shovel them out,” he said. “The city is going to start enforcing alternate side parking again soon and all these people will be getting tickets and I don’t think the city is going to give them a hall pass. We’d like to see them start getting their cars out.”
In Rego Park, garages are located at 98-10 64th Ave., 98-33 63rd Drive and 62-60 99th St. The two Forest Hills locations are at 10-25 Gerard Place and 110-45 Queens Boulevard.
Lerner said his staff is just as willing to help as he is and they will accommodate callers as much as possible. The only thing he asks, he said, is to call at least 30 minutes before the time you are requesting in order to give his staff time to travel.
The program will continue through the remainder of the winter, Lerner said, and as long as there is snow or ice, he said he and his staff will answer calls from people needing a helping hand. He is also looking to run the free shoveling program next winter, especially if the weather is anything like what has happened this year, he said.
“We just like to help out the community,” Lerner said.
The locations of Lerner’s garages in other boroughs can be found by visiting ipark.com to see the radius that the garage will extend to, and motorists should call Wender at 917-209-2195 to arrange a meeting time.
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at 718-260-4573.