Officials Uphold $25 Parking Ticket for Confused Darien Couple


The Foxes tried to pay at this meter machine for space #132, which is in a different parking lot. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Parking Commission last week upheld a $25 ticket for a Darien couple that pulled into a space at one municipal lot downtown and then tried to pay at another.

[The couple] told the commissioners during their March 14 meeting that on the morning of Jan. 31 (a Thursday), they pulled into a space in front of the former Outback Teen Center and then walked up the hill to pay for their parking at the meter machine where the wife, Lindy, typically parks and pays when she visits New Canaan.

Yet that day, what locals call the “Park Street Lot” was full, they said, and that’s why they ended up parking in the “Playhouse Lot.”

“So I put my card in, it would not take it,” the man told the Commission during his appeal hearing, held at Town Hall. “Some lady comes over, and she uses the other one, because there are two [pay machines] together and she said, ‘My card is working here. Oh I tried it last week and it would not work over there.’ So unbeknownst to us, there are two separate lots. They are not marked. We would not know. And so it was 5 degrees, and I kept putting the card in, it would not work. I finally said, ‘Discretion is the better part valor, let’s go eat some place and we will have to deal with it when we come back.’ ”

Yet when they returned to space #132, they found a $25 parking ticket for the unpaid space, time-stamped 12:29 p.m.

“I’m willing to pay the two bucks or three bucks or whatever it is, but $25 because it’s not marked and nobody knows that there are two separate lots,” the man said, leaving his sentence unfinished. 

Parking Commission Chairman Keith Richey noted the the two parking lots in question are at different elevations. 

“Wasn’t it a sign that you tried to park in the space and it would not take [your card]?” Richey said.

The woman said that it wouldn’t occur to her to pay for parking in the Playhouse Lot because she never parked or paid there before.

“I mean honestly I didn’t go to do anything but tell him to go there, that is where I always pay,” she said. “I am sorry.”

She added: “I come here all the time and always park on the upper lot but there were no spaces. I never knew there was a separate parking lot. And I would never think of it.”

The man said, “And I would make suggestion put in a big sign, ‘Two different parking lots.’ ”

After a brief deliberation, the Commission voted 5-0 to uphold the ticket. Those voting included Richey and Commissioners Pam Crum, Chris Hering, Peter Ogilvie and Stuart Stringfellow.

Though the man had said during the hearing that space #132 was in the “second or third row back” from the Outback building, where the meter is located, Crum noted during deliberations that in fact, they were “pretty much on top of the meter.”

Richey said, “I didn’t think that they made any defense at all.”

[Note: The ticketed people’s names have been removed from this article.]

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