Park City police probe apparent paid-parking vandalism
Park City authorities in recent weeks received at least two complaints regarding the paid-parking system in the Old Town core, including a report of an apparent act of vandalism, highlighting that the revamped system continues to confuse some and draw the ire of others months after its debut.
The number of Park City Police Department reports centered on the revamped system fell dramatically in the spring and summer after a concentration of cases during the ski season. Still, though, there continues to be chatter in the community, particularly along Main Street, about the impacts of the revamped system on rank-and-file employees and customers.
One of the recent cases involved damage to the paid-parking infrastructure at the China Bridge garage. Phil Kirk, a police captain, said an officer on patrol in the 11 p.m. hour on July 13 found a damaged parking-gate arm. Kirk said it appeared someone intentionally pushed the arm upward in an effort to allow a person in a vehicle to exit the garage without paying. Kirk said the case is believed to be an act of vandalism.
In another recent report to the police, in the 3 p.m. hour on July 16, the department was told of a verbal exchange between two people. A man yelled at the other person to get out of the way of his vehicle, the police were told. The man appeared to be worried the parking gate would close with the vehicle underneath the arm, according to department logs. The Police Department classified the case as suspected harassment. Details were not immediately available.
The July 13 case is especially notable having involved similar circumstances to some of the reports logged shortly after the system debuted. Drivers reportedly exited their vehicles, pushed the gate arm upward and drove out without paying in some of the cases that occurred shortly after the system was revamped. In other cases at that time, drivers steered their vehicles through closed gates, crashing through the gates to exit without paying.
The Police Department captured some of the people, but others eluded the authorities. The vandalism was unexpected as the revamped paid-parking system debuted. Surveillance cameras were not posted as the infrastructure was installed but were later added as a result of the vandalism. A City Hall consultant has said the sort of vandalism targeting the paid-parking infrastructure in Park City is uncommon elsewhere in the country.
The Police Department estimates the vandalism cases involve approximately $1,000 in damage each. The department increased its monitoring of the paid-parking infrastructure in response to the early cases, but it is not clear whether the stepped-up efforts continue. The China Bridge garage is located one block off Main Street, and the Police Department has a noticeable presence in the Main Street core at all hours regardless of any increased enforcement.
City Hall launched the revamped paid-parking system in the middle of December, making a series of changes. A key alteration was reintroducing paid parking to the China Bridge garage and Swede Alley after those locations had been free parking for years. Reintroducing paid parking at the garage and Swede Alley displaced many Main Street workers accustomed to parking for free close to their places of employment. City Hall instead offered free parking in lots on the fringes of the Main Street core and opened a park-and-ride lot on Homestake Road for people who work on Main Street.
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.