Letter: Highway robbery at the Beav
On days when there is only enough time for a short hike, I sometimes drive up to Beaver Creek and, instead of parking at Ford Hall, continue through the village past the Fishing Ponds and past the BC Service Center up to a point where a locked gate restricts further public vehicular traffic.
Over the years I and many others have parked there without being in violation of Beaver Creek’s public safety. However, when I returned to my car last Tuesday (8/26) after about an hour, I was shocked to discover that my trusty 22-year old Jeep had been booted. On the windshield was a towing order issued by Beaver Creek Public Safety claiming that the car was “Parked on Roadway” and in a “Private or No Parking Zone.”
Also provided was a telephone number to call in order to get the boot removed but only upon the payment of a $100 dollar fine in cash (no credit cards, no checks).
In most small towns, parking violations are usually addressed by the local police department issuing warnings or tickets if justified. People who feel that a ticket may not be justified then have the option of pleading their case in front of a judge. Being forced to pay cash on the spot, in my opinion, is nothing short of highway robbery because it deprived me of the opportunity to defend myself and my Jeep.
Given that opportunity, I would have offered the following arguments: 1. My Jeep was parked on a turnout on the right side of the road (about 500 feet from the gate) without infringing on the roadway. It was not parked on the roadway.
2. There are no signs restricting parking on the entire stretch of dirt road from the BC Service Center to the gate (0.1 mile). It is, therefore, not unreasonable to assume that the turnout this side of the gate is there to provide parking with room for several vehicles.
3. I would also question the “private” claim on the towing order. I don’t believe that my Jeep was parked on private property because this entire area is better known as the Dally ski run during the season and is, therefore, more likely Forest Service land.
Having just been found “not guilty” by my imaginary judge, I am now happy to move past this very disappointing experience and hope that other unsuspecting hikers are forewarned. Also, maybe the Beaver Creek public relations people will have a chat with the Beaver Creek Public Safety people and point out that their Draconian approach to dealing with minor parking issues stands in stark contrast to the guest-friendly and family-oriented image which this community has been able to establish and maintain over the years.
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