Visitors Not Welcome

Dear Editor:

Imagine you’ve come to a national park to take a bike ride with your kids. Or spend a day walking around in nature, playing sports, volunteering, bringing along family and friends, or just taking in the historical sites.

Well, if you’ve visited our own National Park, Fort Tilden, you may have come back to find yourself in the middle of nowhere and your car is gone.

Was it stolen? No, it is the policy for the United States Park Police to not only ticket but TOW AWAY vehicles not in compliance with the Fort’s parking regulations. I.e., cars will be swiftly hauled away if they do not have an NPS parking pass, not leaving any idea they have not been stolen, or why or where they have been taken or any clue as to who to call. That’s besides being stuck far from any place, with no transportation, spotty cell service, no phone numbers to call and no one to reach out to.

I have seen it happen to many, many unfortunate stranded souls, sometimes elderly, sometimes with kids, when all they wanted to do was enjoy a nice day in OUR National Park. They are probably NEVER coming back, and they will tell others.

NPS, U.S. Park Police, it is time to seriously rethink this policy. Granted, you don’t want people parking for the beach at Tilden. But this is seriously not a good look. Ticket cars if you have to. Put up a big sign at the end of the parking field, to give people fair warning, that says, ‘Do Not Park Here. You Will Be Towed.’

And yes, there may be small signs at the entrances that you go by in minute, announcing parking passes are needed. But actually, where do you even get a pass for an activity like a nature walk?

It is the mission of the National Park Service to welcome people to our public land, to ensure that people and generations keep coming back to support NPS and that mission. The U.S. Park Police support that by keeping all safe.

Unfortunately, the current towing policy slams into that mission head on. Unfortunately, after spending a positive, nice park day, looking into the space where your car used to be sends the message, ‘You are not welcomed here.’

We can do better.

Dan Guarino

Rockaway Stuff

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