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.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Last year I presented the proposal to the Trustees to not ticket during permitted events on The Green.

    As I recall, the Trustees resolved to include in an event permit “free” parking around The Green (green fence) for one (1) hour prior to the event and one hour following the event.

    The exact wording of the resolution must be in the Secretary’s minutes for that meeting.


  2. Posted by Peter on July 9, 2013 at 22:10

    Oh hell, all these years how I thought President Reagan said he could not remember the details of Iran Contra had to be a joke.


    • Posted by Corwin Sharp on July 10, 2013 at 15:51

      As Arlo Guthrie once said about President Reagan, “One could do worse than have a sleeping President.” Perhaps this also applies to the Village fathers?


      • Posted by Diana Brown on July 10, 2013 at 16:40

        Could we get Arlo to write a really really long song? And could it have in it stuff about arrows and paragraphs on the back and 8×10 glossys and group w benches? Wow! Or maybe to be deputy mayor?


  3. Posted by Careen on July 9, 2013 at 23:56

    New police officer ? Maybe a woman ? We’ll see. As a woman in the community whose interests were protected by a former female police officer, I am hoping that , should I ever need that type of assistance again, there will be someone on the force – a woman- that will be there for me ? Am I in the wrong town for that ?


  4. Damn, I wish I was one of the connected Beautiful people of the VIllage, then I’d be clued in to the secret free parking policies instead of being one of the low-information parking meter feeders.

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
    ― George Orwell, Animal Farm


  5. Posted by vbrooks on July 10, 2013 at 08:37

    Sometimes the only thing you can say is hummmm.


  6. Posted by Diana Brown on July 10, 2013 at 11:34

    Julia and Macy save the day.- and the future of parking for events.! This is a real feather (from a live bird which just happened to shed a feather), in the WEB cap. Thank you for being there and writing about it. (Full disclosure, I am Dave Brown’s wife, and when he was active on EDC, the parking situation and most importantly, the meter fines, were action items for him.) Good for you Chris Miller, and for the democratic process to go back and make it right. Yay for events on the Green conducted in a way that all may enjoy.


    • Posted by Corwin Sharp on July 10, 2013 at 15:54

      I think that Woodstock needs a mayor. Let’s start a petition for Macy for Mayor…kinda like the ring of it. At least somebody knows what’s going on!


  7. This is a great one. You’ll have a good gaffaw over it. T

    Sent from my iPhone


  8. Posted by wdsknative on July 11, 2013 at 14:20

    Normally Woodstock Early Bird requires first and last name for comments or needs to know the first and last name linked to an email name since we moderate all comments. The policy is no anonymous comments. However, in this case, we are waiving our policy so that we may share this note written by someone who obviously cares about Woodstock and is seeking ways to help the community

    Good on you for bringing this up, following through and reminding those in need of reminding. You seem to have an idea of the “right” people to contact with regards to saving our beautiful town of Woodstock. So I’m going to share a few thoughts and perhaps you could pass them along to the “right” people.

    I grew up in Woodstock and am proud to call it my home town. I don’t live in Woodstock now however I do spend a few months a year here. From my perspective Woodstock is teetering on the edge of becoming another VT town with a lot of empty commercial space, a town people drive through and say I bet this was a beautiful town years ago.

    Woodstock needs a serious lesson on customer service! Customer service begins on Route 4, Route 12 and Route 106 (all the entrances and exits to town) From either direction on route 4 before you arrive in Woodstock there is a really good chance you’ll be pulled over for a speeding ticket, usually because the speed limit changes 4 times within a 3 mile span and the speed limit signs don’t always occur at the speed change. Coming from I89 you are greeted with unattractive signs telling you that speed kills. Now that’s a mighty fine welcome to our community!

    I know Rt 4 has had more than it’s fair share of accidents, and I understand that is why those signs are up. How about a sign on the edge of Woodstock that says “Welcome to Woodstock” and on the exit side “Thank you for visiting Woodstock”.

    For the fortunate few who make it into town without a speeding ticket and actually decide to stop, park and perhaps spend their hard earned money in our town. They are faced with parking meters! I understand we have parking raise money and to prevent people from taking up valuable parking spaces all day. But there are certain places in town where parking meters are more of a piss-off factor than a pleasantry. The 3 spaces in front of the post office for example. I don’t know of any other post office in our country where you have to pay to go inside, and not only do you have to pay you are limited to 12 minutes. So heaven forbid there is a line in the post office, you could pay your meter fee, wait in line, pay the good ole USPS and then walk outside and still have a parking ticket!!! It’s absurd. Those 3 spaces may be more of a “locals” issue than a tourist issue, but customer service applies to EVERYONE locals and tourists alike.

    Woodstock should consider parking meter tokens. If you spend a certain dollar amount in any downtown store you are handed a token from the store clerk good for extra time in your parking meter. The token could be used that day, or any other day and it can be given to someone else to use. Now that would be a unique and friendly way of saying thank you. Thank you for shopping here and please come again and park for x number of minutes on us!

    I enjoy reading your posts and I thank you for blogging. I would love some day to see that the town trustees had a meeting to discuss ways to attract successful business, to attract both residents and tourists alike to want to spend more time here. Without that…sadly more people will trickle away only to say “The town I grew up in was so quaint years ago…it’s sad to see it now.”


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