By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4)- Denver City Councilman Wayne New has written a stinging letter to the Denver Department of Public Works, chastising them for the way they reacted to a CBS4 Investigation that found some Denver parking spots have been placed too close to Denver fire hydrants, apparently in violation of city code.
"If we had spent more time getting the right Public Works or Fire Department staff to investigate the situations, it would have been clear that the parking issues needed to be corrected, and we would not have had to waste all of the time that was spent on this matter," New wrote last month.
In the letter dated March 3, New wrote that the CBS4 Investigation about problem parking spots "was right- something that the PR staff was having a difficult time recognizing."
New was referring to a series of CBS4 reports which showed how Denver parking agents were repeatedly citing drivers for parking too close to fire hydrants when city signs near the hydrants seemed to suggest people could legally park there. Denver city code prohibits parking within 10 feet of hydrants and violators are subjected to a $25 citation.
In January and February of this year, CBS4 found Denver parking agents handed out 301 citations for cars parked within 10 feet of fire plugs. In many cases, signs just a few feet away from the hydrants indicated it was legal to park there.
When CBS4 presented its findings to Denver Public Works, they dismissed the issue.
"We're not seeing it as a problem," said Heather Burke, a spokesperson for Denver Public Works. "I don't see it, I'm sorry; I think it's pretty understandable."
But in the letter sent to Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade and Public Works Executive Director Jose Cornejo, New wrote "If a parking meter or parking sign is improperly located too close to the fire hydrant and a citizen has parked legally following the instruction of the meter parking space or parking sign, the citizen should not be given a fire hydrant ticket."
New suggested the city should study the idea of painting curbs red around fire hydrants to make it clear to the public where they can and cannot park.
Nancy Kuhn, another spokesperson for Denver Public Works, told CBS4, "Denver Public Works hasn't studied the idea of painting curbs and implementation of any new program would require budget for personnel, resources, and ongoing annual maintenance."
Councilman New scolded Denver Public Works in his letter for being obstinate and inflexible when a legitimate issue was brought to their attention, "Developing immovable opinions and attitudes may color our judgement and may not enable us to focus on the right issue, which in this case was safety and giving our citizens tickets for obeying the meters and signage."
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