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Festival parking an exercise in patience

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GREENFIELD — Every October, Greenfield residents who live within walking distance of the Riley Festival find their streets crowded with visitor traffic.

And without fail, some homeowners attempt to block off what they deem should be their personal parking spots, even though public street parking is just that – public, and that means first come, first served.

Trash cans, folding chairs and saw horses can often be seen reserving spots in front of homes, but police say they’ll remove those items if they see them or receive a complaint.

It’s a battle every year, but it is one officers try to approach with patience and understanding, Greenfield Police Chief John Jester said. Not all residents have private driveways, so they depend on street parking that, unfortunately for them, is also coveted by downtown visitors during the Riley Festival.

Jester said he recognizes the inconvenience for those who live near the intersection of Main and State streets, where the festival takes place, but asks for homeowners to be accommodating of those who flock downtown.

“It’s kind of walking a fine line of trying to keep the visitors happy, the citizens happy and still be able to properly enforce parking,” Jester said.

Those who park in such a way that they block a homeowner into a driveway, restrict access to an alley or fire hydrant or obstruct the road to the point emergency vehicles can’t pass risk having their cars towed.

If it’s not an emergency situation requiring immediate removal of the vehicle, officers will usually run a person’s license plate number and radio the name and car description to festival organizers, who will make an announcement over the festival speaker system, asking the owner to move.

“We don’t want to tow people’s cars,” Greenfield Police Maj. Derek Towle said. “That is normally last resort. We will make every attempt to get a hold of the owner.”

Street parking is scarce, but there are also several public lots, including one just south of the Hancock County Courthouse annex and one at the intersection of Pennsylvania and South streets, police said.

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