The Parking Commission on Tuesday night voted unanimously to uphold a $75 ticket issued to a Fairfield woman who was parked in a crosswalk on Elm Street.
Patricia Hessel told members of the Commission at a special meeting that on July 6, she parked in downtown New Canaan just before noon to go shopping for her business and when she returned to her vehicle 10 minutes later, she found a ticket on her car.
“Apparently, I parked in a crosswalk and I did not realize I did,” she told the Commission at its meeting, held in Town Hall. “I’m not from this town. Our town has big white lines [marking the crosswalk]. I did hesitate a bit, but then I got out of the car, I saw the sign and said to myself, ‘I guess it must be OK because [the arrow on the sign] is pointing both ways… But sure enough, I got a ticket.”
Hessel said that she didn’t take a photo of where her car was parked at the time the ticket was issued but went back at a later date and took a photo “to prove my case.” She presented the photo to the Commission as evidence.
“The big white lines and red bricks [at the crosswalk] didn’t trigger any thoughts?” Commissioner Peter Ogilvie asked.
Hessel replied “no” and reiterated that she was looking for large, white lines similar to what she’s used to seeing at crosswalks in Fairfield.
“The [arrow on the] sign looked like it was pointing both ways, so I’m fighting it,” she said. “Believe me, I will never park there again. You know, the signage is a little tough in downtown [New Canaan], I will say that. I love to come shopping down here, but it is difficult.”
Hessel went on to explain that she was issued a ticket in the same area three years prior when hanging baskets were obscuring the parking signs. She decided to appeal that ticket and it was later voided. She said that she decided to appeal the second ticket as well because her car was parked “on the straight line” and “not on the curb or on the corner.”
Upon learning that Hessel’s first ticket was voided, Chairman Keith Richey replied, “So, in the worst case [scenario], one for two won’t be too bad.”
Hessel asked the Commission whether the arrow pointing in both directions on the sign meant that cars were permitted to park in either direction. Richey didn’t directly answer the question but said that “it’s rare that you can park in a crosswalk.”
Later in the meeting, when it was time for the Commission to vote whether to uphold or void Hessel’s ticket, Richey called her defense “ludicrous.”
Others voting to uphold include Commissioners Peter Ogilvie, Pam Crum, and Stuart Stringfellow.