Select Board disagree over enforcement of Garwin Falls parking

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/17/2019 9:15:38 PM

Select Board members clashed over the traffic enforcement around Wilton’s Garwin Falls.

Selectman Matt Fish pushed board members to enforce a towing policy the town put into place last year, when street parking around the falls began to clog the roads. The falls are privately owned, but are available to the public as a swimming and hiking spot. 

“Quite frankly, it’s out of control again,” Fish said, on a recording of Monday night’s Select Board meeting. “It’s once again a nightmare.”

Residents who attended Monday’s meeting also spoke of the increase of street parking in the area. Ralph Buschmann of Sand Hill Road said as the summer weather rolled in, he noticed the uptick in activity. 

“They parked right under the sign that said ‘No parking, tow zone,’” Buschmann said. “Just a total disregard for what we have set up. Apparently a $100 ticket or fine is not slowing these people down.”

“The disregard for the signs is pretty blatant,” agreed resident DJ Garcia. “I think as harsh as it seems if you’re parked under a tow zone sign, you should be towed.”

Resident Harry Dailey remarked that it is “unrealistic” to expect all the cars parking illegally to be towed.

Resident Mary Ann Shea said she had been in the area several times over the summer to check the cemetery, where parking is also prohibited, and each time, she had seen a patrol car in the area. “I really think the police department is doing its job. I don't expect the police department to sit at Garwin Falls,” she said. 

Fish said according to police records, the town had issued 31 tickets over the summer, from the beginning of the year to July 11. The majority, he said, were given in five individual days. 

There has only been one car towed, an unregistered vehicle from Ohio.

Fish said he conducted an informal poll on a Wilton community Facebook page, and received 120 out of 130 responses who wanted to see the towing policy more strictly enforced.

Fish’s fellow Select Board members said they were comfortable continuing to leave the decision to tow vehicles up to the police department.

“We have to ask our police department to make a judgment about what the best use of their time,” Selectman Kermit Williams said, of towing vehicles. “It’s a significant investment of the officer’s time.”

Selectwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault agreed the board authorized towing on the streets surrounding the falls, but said the board gave the police discretion on when to use it. She said having heard Monday’s concerns, the police may take a harder line on people parked too far in the road, or people who are ticketed more than once. 

Police Chief Eric Olesen agreed the police could be more aggressive in its adherence to the towing policy for cars parked in the road.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 


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