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GUEST COMMENTARY: Ticketing hikers makes no sense; charge a fee instead

September 13, 2019
By BARRY KESSLER , Lake Placid News

To the editor:

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter of protest to town officials about the parking issues I experienced on Sunday, Sept. 1. I am requesting that you print my letter in your newspaper. It is my attempt at a common-sense solution to a serious and ongoing problem. I am attaching a printed copy of this letter with my not guilty plea.

Dear town authorities:

I have been hiking in the High Peaks Wildernesses for almost 40 years. I have gained a significant appreciation for the vast and wonderful area you oversee and manage. I also appreciate the need to keep the wild wild.

On Friday of Labor Day weekend, I arrived with my family at 7 a.m. with the plan to climb Algonquin. The day was fabulous; we conquered the mountain. Afterward, we appreciated the expanded food concession and larger porch on the main welcome building.

We took notice, however, upon our arrival at the site that morning that the parking lot was full. We were one of the last cars to be accommodated. At 7 a.m.? This seems strange as there wasn't too much activity going on. Certainly not enough at that early hour to warrant a full lot. I reasoned at that time that weekend campers were parked and not fairly allowing day hikers access to the area. An area that I drive six hours from Long Island annually to enjoy.

All went well Friday.

On Sunday the day before Labor Day, we decided that a short hike at Rocky Falls would be nice. We arrived at about 9:30 to find the lot full and hundreds of cars parked along the road. The parking began about 1 mile from the entrance to the facility. The parked cars, none of which were blocking access for emergency vehicles, were not near the entrance to the facility. All the vehicles, as far as I can judge, were parked responsibly.

Noting the parking started far from the entrance, I speculated the vehicle owners knew local rules and customs. We chose to join the crowd, hoping they had local knowledge of the parking. We were wrong. Hundreds of summons were issued on all of the cars. We were shocked and dismayed. How can they let this happen? So many new tourists to this area being totally turned off. It doesn't make sense. It's terrible planing and execution. Yes, you will see a short-term windfall, but long-term you are drastically mismanaging the situation. People will be offended and upset. They will never come back. They are mad and hurt. Their outdoor experience is marred and blemished. They will always harbor ill feelings for your town and the overall outdoor experience. It hurts to feel like you are being abused by circumstance. This is a bad thing for everyone involved. You need to promote good will, not ill will.

The parking along the road can be safe with proper oversight. There is plenty of room for an emergency vehicle, if necessary. You, as a town, should be selling day parking passes at whatever rate you deem fair and keep an eye on things. A couple of security persons and maybe even a shuttle bus - again, fees may be applicable. A sensible solution will prevent a negative association with the town of North Elba and its associated neighborhood.

By the way, the trails were not overcrowded. The walk to Rocky Falls was a private experience. The area can handle a big crowd on a big weekend.

The hiking was great. The parking was a disaster.

I plead NOT GUILTY by reason of actual reason and common sense.

I will not be able to attend trial as I live on Long Island and work hard for a living making flags, banners and signs. Which I would be happy to assist with if you deem acceptable.

I would like to recommend changing the road signs to read: "PARKING BY PERMIT ONLY. Permits for sale at entrance booth. Cost $10 per person or vehicle."

A fair solution to a tough problem.

I hope you will take my recommendations under advisement and find me not guilty.

---

Barry Kessler lives in Dix Hills, Long Island.

 
 
 

 

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