Parking officials last week voted unanimously to uphold three tickets totaling $105 for a downtown retail shop worker who said she inadvertently had parked all day outside the Main Street business.
During an exchange that became testy at times, Jamie Friend told members of the Parking Commission at their most recent meeting that she parked in front of Wave on Main Street on a Saturday morning “because I had a bunch of things to bring into the store where I work, and once I got into work it was crazy.”
“It was busy and I completely forgot that my car was parked there,” she said while appealing her tickets at the commission’s Nov. 9 meeting, held in Town Hall. “So I didn’t leave until the end of the day at 6 o’clock and I had three tickets on my car so I was pretty upset because that is pretty much my whole day’s wages.”
Commissioners Keith Richey, the body’s chairman, Pam Crum and Peter Ogilvie voted to uphold the tickets—$25 for the initial overtime parking violation and then $40 each for two subsequent violations. Parking on Main and Elm, and other downtown streets, is 90 minutes though it will change to two hours once new signs are installed, following a recent decision. Parking Commissioner Chris Hering didn’t arrive at the meeting until after Friend’s appeal had been heard, so he couldn’t vote on it, and Stuart Stringfellow was absent.
Richey told Friend that she should be aware, as everyone at the store should be, “that the Parking Commission is very much against employees working on Main and Elm parking on Main and Elm.”
“We have instituted cheap parking over at the Center School lot and there is long-term parking behind the theater and there are other alternatives that we want you to do. We do not want you taking the parking spaces which your customers might want to take. That has been the policy for about 20 years.”
He referred to the Center School lot on Maple Street, where an annual parking permit costs $144, as well as to new permits for Morse Court and Park Street lots for downtown workers specifically, which cost $429 per year.
Richey noted that Friend by her own admission was in violation of the parking rule by staying more than 90 minutes, and several times over.
“You said you did park there,” he said. “You are not saying you didn’t park there for eight hours. So you are saying you’re entirely justified and you should probably be complimenting [Parking Superintendent] Stacy [Miltenberg] for having a parking department which was able to notice this and give you the tickets you deserve.:
Friend replied: “Cool, so now you are charging over $100 a day.”
Richey responded that Friend herself “created that” debt.
“There was no reason at all for you to park right in front of your store. You could have parked behind the theater, you could have parked for hours there for a couple of dollars. You could have parked in the Morse Court Lot. You could have parked in the Center lot. You could have parked in the Locust Lot.”
Responding to a question from Ogilvie, in which he also noted that Friend had racked up six parking tickets already this year—prior to the three tickets under appeal—she said she now has a permit for Locust Lot, but that she didn’t obtain it until after this incident.
Crum asked whether anyone else was working in the store at the time Friend got the tickets and she said yes, there are always two people on.
Richey put in: “Great store, by the way. My wife loves it.”
He added that if Friend “had pulled up and delivered these things and gone right back out to your car and moved car, you would not be here.”
Friend said that “goes without saying.”
“But I am not arguing that,” she continued. “What I am saying is that I work in town, I went into the store and forgot my car was there. If it pleases you guys to have somebody pay over $100, then that is your prerogative. I happen to think that is excessive and I think that when the parking department comes and they put one ticket down and then another ticket down and then a third ticket down, that it is over the top.”
Richey answered: “Ma’am, do you realize that everywhere in New Canaan that is downtown, you are basically less than two blocks away from the train station? We would have our town overrun from people parking from other towns who don’t have a permit, parking all over Main and Elm, parking their car all day, if they just got a $20 ticket. We cannot do that. There would not be a parking space left downtown if we did not enforce these rules.”