There is a parking problem in Falmouth. We all know this. But it becomes a particular problem on weekends at most of the town’s boat ramps.
This came to our attention this week by way of a letter from a resident who was issued a $50 parking ticket at the Green Pond boat ramp for parking on the grass. He had no trailer but needed to park to get to his boat, which is on a mooring he rents from the town.
On a Sunday two weeks ago the parking situation at the boat ramp was no different than previous weekends. It was packed. So he found a spot on the grass near Green Harbor Road, as did others. It was nothing new for them; they had been parking in the same area all summer.
When he and the others returned from the water, the harbormaster had issued them tickets for $50.
Obviously, they had been illegally parked, but did they deserve a steep fine? And why now, when they had been parking that way for weeks? They weren’t blocking anyone in or taking parking away from boaters with trailers.
The box checked on the parking ticket of our correspondent was for parking in a “prohibited area,” and was under a list of infractions that come with a $25 fine. Yet the harbormaster wrote in $50 below, next to “Pay this Amount.” Why?
Parking on the grass in itself can’t possibly be considered an egregious infraction, particularly when boaters routinely park with their trailers in the marina park between the Flying Bridge and the harbormaster’s office. Why are there special privileges at that location?
There are no easy answers here. Boaters, with and without trailers, are getting increasingly squeezed when it comes to parking. And it’s not just due to a greater number of boaters; not long ago, boaters could park with their trailers on Spencer Baird Road after putting in at the Woods Hole boat ramp. That option was eliminated a dozen years ago or so. There were also a handful of spots to park on Waquoit Landing Road near Route 28. Those were eliminated a few years ago for no obvious reason.
The transportation management committee devoted a good deal of attention to parking problems on and around Main Street. They deserve the attention because ample parking is necessary for a good deal of commerce in town.
But so do our waterways. Boating is arguably a major driver of commerce in Falmouth. Some way should be found to alleviate parking pressure and encourage boaters.
Onerous parking fines are not the way to accomplish that.