Parking Enforcement Ramps Up As Downtown Activity Increases

As New Canaan businesses continue to reopen and draw more visitors downtown, motorists who violate serious parking regulations such as parking in crosswalks, in front of fire hydrants and in designated disabled spaces will receive tickets, officials say. Yet parking in municipal lots remains free, and those overstaying time limits will receive a “courtesy ticket” that amounts to a warning, according to Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg. The system is designed to get shoppers, diners and downtown workers accustomed to the reintroduction of parking enforcement, which officials said had been suspended last month. “Nobody should be parking illegally—we are going to do our best to move people along—but if a car is illegally parked and we can’t get it to move, we will be ticketing,” Miltenberg said. The question of when to start enforcing the two-hour time limits on streets such as Main and Elm is fluid, and will depend largely on how quickly downtown re-fills with visitors.

Commission Upholds Parking Tickets at Appeals Hearing

Several motorists appealed parking violations during last week’s meeting of the New Canaan Parking Commission. Mariann Funch said she came to New Canaan to shop on a Monday and parked on Elm Street. The Stamford resident told the Commission during her appeal hearing that she “put the space number into the machine and paid with three quarters, slowly, one at a time.” Funch went into the store for about 45 minutes and when she came back she had a ticket, she said during the hearing, held Nov. 7 in Town Hall. Funch said after she discovered the ticket on her vehicle she went back to check the parking kiosk and noticed that there was three quarters in the refund slot, indicating that her transaction never went through.

‘No Parking’ Signs Installed To Improve Safety at Marshall Ridge and Richmond Hill Roads

Town officials have installed new parking signs in a residential neighborhood just south of the downtown following concerns from residents there that increased on-street parking has created a safety hazard. At the recommendation of the Traffic Calming Work Group, ‘No Parking Here To Corner’ signs have been installed toward the northern end of Marshall Ridge Road, where it intersects with Richmond Hill Road. 

An administrative team that includes members of the Police, Fire, Parking and Public Works Departments, the Work Group fielded a Marshall Ridge Road resident’s request for traffic-calming following what she described as a car crash during the morning school and work rush. According to Dawn Belles, a vehicle traveling eastbound on Richmond Hill Road at about 8:10 a.m. on a recent morning struck a vehicle with a mom driving her son toward school as that car tried to exit from Marshall Ridge. “Its very lucky kids weren’t around crossing to get to the bus stop on [Marshall] Ridge,” Belles wrote in her email to traffic officials, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request. With motorists, possibly commuters, parking on both sides of the road in the morning, that end of Marshall Ridge becomes dangerously narrow, to the point where school buses sometimes have difficulty getting through, Belles said in the letter.

Commission: Don’t Give Parking Enforcement Officers Ability to Void Tickets Once They’re Written

The volunteers who help oversee New Canaan’s Parking Bureau said this month pushed back on the idea of empowering enforcement officers to void tickets once they’ve been written. 

Parking Commission Chairman Keith Richey broached the idea during the appointed body’s Sept. 4 meeting, saying that in certain cases—for example, where someone happened to be in a double-parked or otherwise mis-parked vehicle, or was unaware of a loading zone rule—it could make sense to empower the enforcement officer to retract a ticket. 

Yet doing so would bring new risks, the commissioners said. 

“It puts the officer on the street in an awkward position when the townsperson says look I lived in New Canaan for 39 yrs and I am a senior citizen and I am really important in New Canaan and I think you ought to waive this ticket,” Commissioner Peter Ogilvie said during the special meeting, held at Town Hall. 

“Well, if the officer has the legal ability to waive right then and there on the street, the officer is going to feel pretty intimidated by some of these people. I don’t think you want to give that right to the officer on the street.”

According to appeals filed by motorists cited for violating New Canaan’s parking rules, enforcement officers often say on the street that they cannot retract a ticket once it’s printed. 

Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg said that the officers already give motorists an opportunity to move or urge a driver to correct the violation prior to issuing a ticket. “They will tell somebody to please move,” Miltenberg said. Commissioner Chris Hering said that changing the Bureau’s practice would just expose the department. 

“What we try to do in our role here is to be fair and consistent and I think that we expose ourselves with further leniency,” Hering said.