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Letter: Clear parking signs are needed at county parks

To the editor,

My family decided to go to Lake Byllesby on a beautiful holiday to observe the Fourth of July. We opted to go to the Dakota County side of the lake for a picnic. That was an expensive mistake I would like to warn others about.

We drove through the parking lot by the beach and couldn’t find a place to park so we drove around again and parked on the grassy area before you reach the parking lot. There were at least a dozen vehicles there. We had been there for an hour or so when we saw Dakota County deputies talking to somebody from one of the other vehicles. We then realized they were ticketing every single vehicle parked there.

I am not a rule breaker, so I spoke to the deputy and was told I was getting a parking ticket. I’ve never had a parking ticket in my life, so I asked where the no parking sign was. I was informed there was no sign and that I should have known the zoning ordinance. I explained that we would’ve moved immediately if we had known we were in a no parking area. His analogy was that if I went to Target and the parking lot was full, then I should know not to park on the street. I don’t think this was a fair analogy.

He told me I should have parked in the overflow parking area. I still couldn’t see it when he pointed to it because it was behind a brushy area. I was ticketed for “vehicle parking – undesignated area/restrict the flow of traffic.” I was parked off the road and there was a lot more room for emergency vehicles to get through where I was than in the parking lot. I question using all that time to issue parking tickets at Lake Byllesby rather than ticketing people who were shooting off illegal fireworks, driving drunk or cliff diving.

If I were to be caught speeding, I would know I was breaking the law and could be ticketed. In this situation, there wasn’t a realistic way for me to know I was doing something wrong. My recommendation to the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office is that the money collected for these parking tickets be used to buy a sign indicating this was a no parking area. When we later drove by the Cannon Valley Fair and saw the small cardboard signs indicating where parking was not allowed, we wondered why this couldn’t have been done at the park, especially on a busy holiday.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to talk my family from out of town into returning to this Dakota County park on Lake Byllesby for a long time. Is that really what the park wants?