Number of beer garden parking tickets issued called ‘ghastly’

Commission member takes issue with citations but chief says officers are just enforcing clearly posted law

AT THE FIRST beer garden of the season in July, cars were parked on the grass in Upper Lake Park next to a sign that instructs drivers not to do that. Press file photo
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A spate of parking tickets issued by Port Washington police officers during a recent beer garden spurred a spirited debate during Monday’s Police and Fire Commission meeting.

Commission Chairman Jim Biever said he received a complaint about the situation, and commission member Sarah Burdette, who said she was at the beer garden, concurred, saying a “ghastly amount” of tickets were issued.

“I was surprised by how many tickets were given out,” she said, noting three officers were writing them out for vehicles parked along the road through Upper Lake Park.

The park was extremely busy that day, Burdette said, noting that in addition to the beer garden there was a private event elsewhere.

“We’re in a situation where we can’t win,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.

The road is clearly marked, he said, and if officers enforce the law they are labeled as bad guys.

If they don’t ticket people, he said, it merely encourages people to continue to break the rules.

Part of the problem is that when drivers park along the road, they block the pedestrian lane and walkers are forced into the middle of the road, which is dangerous.

“If someone gets hurt, who’s going to be criticized?” Hingiss said.

Parking along the road also makes it narrower, which can make it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through if they are needed, officials said.

Hingiss said that the parking lot on the far north end of the park is seldom used, and he would like to see drivers use that lot instead of parking on the roadway.

“That night it (the north lot) was used,” Burdette said.

This isn’t the first time the issue of parking for the beer garden has been considered by officials.

In 2019, a similar situation occurred during a beer garden, and in response the city prohibited parking along the Upper Lake Park roadway.

Officials were torn between the fact the beer garden is a community gathering place that benefits the city’s many civic organizations and the safety issues.

Biever suggested the city consider cordoning off a portion of the grassy area in the park — perhaps the same area used for the Fish Day car show — for parking during the beer gardens.

“It’s probably too late for this year,” he conceded, “But next year...”

The beer garden is operated by the Friends of Parks and Recreation, and Ald. Dan Benning suggested that Biever discuss the matter with Jon Crain, superintendent of parks and forestry.

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