Archive for July 9th, 2013

Stealth “Free” Parking Policy Eludes Trustees’ Memory

A super-stealthy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” free parking policy approved by Village Trustees exactly a year ago has apparently avoided not only detection, but the Board’s collective memory.  So effective is this stealth program of providing secret “grace periods” for non-ticketing of cars parked around the Village Green during permitted events that Trustees forgot it existed. So have Woodstock Village Police, that is if they were ever provided with the top secret information concerning this local “law” in which they, or their meter readers, were to avert their eyes and pocket their ticket books during certain specialized events and time periods.

Having apparently been only one of a handful to remember the approval of the policy  exactly a year ago, Woodstock Early Bird blithely walked away from her car without feeding the parking meter last Wednesday while attending the Market on the Green. A kind meter reader alerted her to the fact that she needed change to feed the meter. But, WAIT, said Woodstock Early Bird, “Do we not have a policy that for one hour before and one hour after a permitted Village Green event the Woodstock Police will not write parking tickets?!” We were told that no, well, that policy doesn’t exist anymore (or ever). Woodstock Early Bird did have quarters which were fed into the meter by a kindly art vendor from whom she was purchasing a ceramic tray. Bird also bought her healthy GREENS and was delighted by the pile of nibblicious tender orange freshly harvested carrots purchased from a local farmer.

Now, entirely by happenstance, this stealth policy came out of the shadows tonight. Shiretown Books owner Ron Miller, speaking on behalf of the Bookstock organizers, came before the Village Trustees to request the “bagging” of the meters during all, or some, of his three-day upcoming event which includes activities on the Green and talks at the Library and Woodstock Historical Society.

Trustees Chair Candace Coburn quickly spoke up that she would be against a policy of allowing free parking during the event as meters are meant to keep people flowing into and out of shops and that a shop validation program for free parking is already in place. Shop, shop, shop. She also said approval of “bagging” meters for Bookstock would mean having to do it for all other events.

More discussion, kind words for Bookstock but alas, no, unless the free parking policy is approved for all events, no.

But WAIT! Woodstock Early Bird jumped up and down! Don’t we have a policy already that says for permitted events on the Village Green, Woodstock Police will not write tickets?  Most Trustees shook their heads. Chris Miller looked perplexed but clearly a lightbulb (A bright LED-lamp type perhaps) had gone on. And then: Cameraman Macy Lawrence nodded his head YES, HE, too,  REMEMBERED! A big collective HUH?

Municipal Assistant Mary Riley went to the source: Minutes from past Village Trustees meetings and returned with: VOILA! She nodded her head that yes, on July 6, 2012, the Trustees approved the policy after a long discussion about not wanting to remove meter heads and not wanting to bag them for events.

As Chris Miller remembered, the policy is this: We won’t broadcast it ,  (those who don’t know, those) people can still feed the meters and we will collect the money, but Woodstock Police will not write tickets during these events. So, yes, Woodstock Early Birds, there IS a FREE BROWN BAG LUNCH, well, at least the parking part.

And yes, if you are super-secret-stealthy and fly below the radar at certain times — which will not be broadcast — you may be given the grace of continuing your book-browsing or Market on the Green shopping without out the anxiety and fear of being without quarters. Oh boy, the revenue mavens are wondering what the heck they’ve done!

But Village Trustees this evening agreed after hearing the policy read back that yes, indeed, it seems there is a policy already in place. And, that, at least, was good news for Mr. Miller and  for Bookstock.

Woodstock Police Chief Robbie Blish even wrote a “note to self” to inform his patrolmen that the policy is in place. After all, if the policy is so secret police don’t know about it, how can they be expected to NOT write tickets? Oh, the wrath of the public will be on them.

Speaking of  the wrath of the public and Woodstock Police: Big news for Officer Joe Swanson (son of Municipal Manager Phil Swanson). He has been promoted to a Supervisory position and will now be a “Corporal Swanson.” Another part-time patrolman is coming online, so to speak,  and will start being part of the scene officially this Fall, according to Blish.