Downtown Smithfield residents get “hang tag” to avoid being towed

Published 1:16 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2016

By Matt Leonard

Staff Writer

Downtown Smithfield residents received a letter recently with a tag allowing them to access their street and driveway during setup and breakdown of tourism events.

The brightly colored tag states “Downtown Resident” and is designed to hang from the rear view mirror.

Some residents were concerned about parking during events and the possibility of having their cars towed.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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The Smithfield Police said they will tow cars, but only after exhausting their resources to find drivers.

Isle of Wight Director of Tourism Judy Winslow said when a street is closed for an event, signs are posted a day or two prior to give residents warning. The signs will say “no parking” and a have a date range on them.

“They should be able to find alternatives fairly easily,” Winslow said of the parking options for residents who usually park on Main Street. The town owns three lots where people can park: one its shares with Trinity Untied Methodist Church, another next to Smithfield Station and a third on Main Street.

She said Main Street would be the most commonly closed road for events, adding that the Christmas Parade closes down the most streets including Cedar, Grace, James and Main streets.

The Olden Days festival in June will be the next festival to have road closures associated with it. Main Street will be closed and North and South Mason streets will be closed for one block on either side of Main Street.

Winslow said when residents or visitors leave their car on the street marked as “no parking” the Smithfield Police Department will be contacted. The police will work to find the owners and ask them to move, she said.

Sergeant Chris Meier of the Smithfield Police Department said he is not aware of a car ever having to be towed for an event downtown, saying they work really hard to find the owner and they would not give tickets.

Meier said they can look up a phone number through dispatch with the license plate number. They will also be walking into the business the car is parked in front of to find someone to move the car.

“We usually find someone to move the vehicle for us,” Meier said. “Usually once we go out to the downtown area and start putting out cones before an event people see us and come out and move their vehicles for us.”

The hang tags were designed to assist residents who live downtown, but still want to carry on their personal business and come to and from their residences during large-scale tourism events. Olden Days will be the first test of the new tags. {/mprestriction}