BELFAST, Maine — Chief Mike McFadden of the Belfast Police Department hopes that the bright yellow Denver boot that arrived earlier this week will send a clear message to downtown parking scofflaws.
“We have a number of outstanding tickets out there. We need to hold people’s feet to the fire,” he said Friday. “If the parking tickets remain unpaid for a certain amount of time, this is on the horizon, coming soon to a street near you.”
The boot is a metal clamp that when attached to a wheel makes it impossible to drive the vehicle. Those who have had their cars or trucks booted will have to pay off their parking fines before the police release the device.
The city still is owed $15,000 in outstanding parking tickets, and city officials have embarked on a program to try to minimize the problem of overtime parking, McFadden said. Toward that end, the fines for overtime parking downtown will be doubled from $5 to $10, and efforts to get people to pay for old tickets are being increased. The boot won’t be used without warning, he said. That is likely to look like a letter sent by certified mail that will give people with unpaid tickets the chance to meet with the police chief and pay off their fines.
Also, if people who are issued parking tickets don’t pay them within 30 days, the tickets will go from $10 to $25, he said.
“My first year as chief here, I got bombarded with a bunch of complaints about parking,” McFadden said. “I suggested we keep some sort of consistent pattern to parking ordinances downtown. A parking officer has patrolled two days a week throughout the winter. It was pretty random, and we kept people honest all winter long. This spring, I have not received one complaint about parking violations.”