The Parking Commission at its most recent meeting voted unanimously to uphold a $25 ticket issued to a Ridgefield woman for an unpaid space downtown.
Caroline Whelan told the Commission during a Sept. 9 appeal hearing that she tried to use the meter machine at Morse Court but that each time she pressed the ‘Start’ button “the screen just flashed ‘action forbidden.’ ”
“I inserted my card probably five or six times, pressing start and I saw a couple of other people around me who seemed like they were facing the same situation that had been trying to pay but just didn’t,” Whelan said during the hearing, held via videoconference. “And I was also late for a meeting, so I just kind of gave up. And would also like to note that the next time I parked there was on Aug. 16th and I did successfully pay for the spot that time.”
Asked for information regarding the machine in question, Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg said double-checked with the officer who maintains them and that “action forbidden” never came up.
“I went to check the manual as well and I have never seen that message anywhere in the manual,” Miltenberg said.
A look at the transaction history on the day in question showed that there were 137 transactions in Morse Court between 8:24 a.m. and 6:54 p.m. on the day in question and “we had no calls that day that said the machine was not working.”
“There are two machines in that lot, so I can only give you what I found out,” she said. “I have no complaints that those were not working by anybody else and I will tell you that if the machines are not working we will get notified.”
After brief deliberations, the Commission voted 5-0 to uphold the ticket. Those voting included Chair Keith Richey and Commissioners Peter Ogilvie, Drew Magratten, Laura Budd and Jennifer Donovan.
During the hearing, Magratten asked whether the other motorists that Whelan noticed were having difficulty with the second machine in Morse Court.
She responded, “That was more speculation on my part. People were just standing around looking confused. So I didn’t clarify directly with anyone if they were having an issue. That was just a conclusion I drew without figuring it out. So that’s not really important.”
Asked whether she had parked in Morse Court before, Whelan said no.
Magratten asked Miltenberg whether there’s a phone number posted on each machine for those having difficulty using them. She said no, though “we do look at back office to see if [there are] malfunctions or alerts and again none on those machines, as well I have access to back office computer system.”
“There was nothing on my end that I could find,” she said. “And again that message has never been set, ‘action forbidden.’ ”
Magratten said during deliberations that not having a phone number for users to log issues with the machines “is a bit of a bummer from the consumer side.”
Richey responded that, “But when the machines were installed we provided a lot of grace period, grace weeks, we let a lot of people off,” he said. “Those machines have been around for a while now. I think they are pretty bullet-proof.”