The Parking Commission at its most recent meeting voted 4-1 to uphold a $25 ticket for a New Canaan woman who had overstayed in a Main Street space for about a half-hour.
Heidi McEvoy told members of the Commission during an appeal hearing that she’s a longtime volunteer at New Canaan Library and that on the Monday morning in question, she headed in to assist with a twice-yearly children’s book sale and “the library lot was full.”
“In fact, it was so full that there were cars parked in areas marked ‘no parking’—and that’s quite a common occurrence,” McEvoy said during her appeal hearing, held March 14 at Town Hall.
“A lot of people use the library lot to stay and do their library shopping in town and they never move. And the library does not do much about enforcing that. But in any event, when I first arrived, there were no spaces in the library parking lot, so I went around the lot three or four times and still couldn’t find one, and parked on Main Street and then later on after I had finished my stint at the library I came out and saw the parking meter lady putting a ticket on my car and I said, ‘But I am here.’ She said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do anything about it— I have already written the ticket.’ And my defense is that I have put in a lot of time in at New Canaan Library and made lot of money for the library at the book sales and if not there isn’t parking in the library parking lot, which I can’t control and they don’t enforce it, I don’t think the library volunteers should be charged for parking tickets. Now if you look at my record, I think I have had one parking ticket in all of my 50 years that I have lived in New Canaan. And I am quite responsible. I don’t really break the law every other day.”
McEvoy estimated that she has volunteered a total of approximately 4,200 hours at the library.
Asked by Commission Secretary Pam Crum why she didn’t move her car when the on-street two-hour time limit expired, McEvoy said, “That is of course a sticky question but when you are working on a project like children’s books and you’re involved in what you are doing, you just don’t keep track of the time.”
She added: “So I suppose that is a very cogent question and I have no answer for it. I just got involved in my work.”
Commissioner Peter Ogilvie asked McEvoy why she didn’t park at the Center School Lot just across Maple Street from the library.
“It just never occurred to me, because why should I have to pay to park when I am volunteering for the benefit of the library?” McEvoy said. “That is my defense, however weak it may be.”
When Ogilvie followed up by asking, “So you wanted to save the 50 cents?” McEvoy responded, “I did. I am quite parsimonious.”
Parking Commission Chairman Keith Richey said, “And that is smart.”
In the end, he was the only commissioner to vote in favor of voiding the ticket.
“She is volunteering, she just parked in an easy spot and it only happened once,” Richey said.
Yet other commissioners noted that McEvoy had overstayed by a full 30 minutes, that the library lot frequently fills up and that in this case, the ticketed person could have set an alarm on the phone or something similar as a reminder to move her car.
“We should be encouraging the library to send their volunteers to the Center School Lot,” Commissioner Chris Hering said. “Those spots on Main should be more transient spots.”
Commissioners Crum, Ogilvie, Hering and Stuart Stringfellow voted to uphold the ticket.