By locking gates, fairgrounds keeps peace among kids, but angers seniors

I was a bit dismayed that I couldn’t walk between the La Plata County Fairgrounds and Durango/La Plata Senior Center. All the gates between these public facilities are locked. I guess this was someone’s great idea to keep high schoolers from cutting through the fairgrounds. It was such a good idea that it keeps everyone from doing the same. Please don’t lock me in. Or is it out? – Mark

You’re correct that locked gates are all about Durango High School students, but it’s not about them taking a shortcut.

“We put up that fence and locked gate a couple of years ago because the kids were coming over to fight,” said an anonymous fairgrounds worker.

“They wanted to fight off of school property, and this was closest.”

Apparently, the situation was getting bad. “I’m told that fights would happen almost weekly,” the fairgrounds person said.

These aren’t innocent whippersnappers. They’re pugilistic interlopers wanting to whip some you know what.

Action Line doesn’t know which is more troubling, the fact that students have frequent fisticuffs or that public property is locked off to the public.

When school lets out for the summer, the gate will be unchained, giving the folks at Durango/La Plata Senior Center unfettered access to the tiff turf.

But the 55-plus crowd isn’t inclined to settle personal disputes with an old-fashioned dustup.

“The seniors are a peaceful bunch,” the fairgrounds person said. “They don’t beat each other up.”

The other night, I had a couple beers downtown with some friends and decided to not drive home. A nonimbibing friend gave me a lift. The next morning, my car had a $15 parking ticket saying I had violated City Code 24-54 “No Parking 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.” This type of negative reinforcement for responsible adult behavior seems dangerous and opportunistic. Is the city telling us we should just gamble by driving home? – Keep Me Anonymous

By no means does the city want to encourage drunken driving. But it wants to keep the streets clean in summer and plowed in winter.

Having cars parked downtown interferes with these important wee-hour tasks.

The city also wants to be fair.

Some were taking advantage of Durango’s overnight-ticket amnesty and using downtown streets as their personal parking spot.

Thus, the city had to enforce its rules, according to Amber Blake, who oversees parking for the city.

So here are a couple ways to still enjoy adult leisure beverages downtown, not drive drunk and not get a parking ticket.

Your best strategy is to park in one of the 350 spaces in town’s four municipal lots, Amber advises.

“Parking there is free all night until 7 a.m.,” Amber said.

However, if one has been carousing, it’s unlikely that 7 o’clock will be an hour seen with eyes wide open.

Therefore, the city will make an exception. If you spring your car from a lot by 9 a.m. but have a ticket for not having a parking permit, bring the ticket to the Transit Center.

Make sure you have a taxi or Buzz Bus receipt or your receipt from the pervious night’s social establishments.

“We just need some documentation that you were out on the town the night before to dismiss the ticket.”

Amber also points to the city’s Buzz Bus program. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, it will take you anywhere within city limits for just $5.

But heck, even if you get a ticket, big deal. The average DUI conviction costs anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.

So $15 is a deal, especially because you can’t get a decent glass of wine around these parts for less than $9.

durango colorado

The Mea Culpa Mailbag has an outstanding meteorological observation from our good friend Neil A. Bourjaily:

“Looking out my window last Monday morning, I saw once again that atmospheric slurry combination of dust and mist in our beloved skies. What to call this wonder, I wondered.

“Dist,” my wife answered. “It’s a combination of mist and dust sent our way disrespectfully by our Arizona neighbor.

“We’ve been dist,” she said.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you thank the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown for organizing such a wonderful event during the weekend. What a cool thing to have here. Great job!