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City patches things over with local skeptics and atheists

White industrial tape covers the word “church” on East Third Avenue’s parking signs, ensuring the city is in compliance with the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause.

What is “services parking” along East Third Avenue? Is “services parking” available every day of the week? I noticed that some tape is obscuring the top part of the signs, presumably covering the word “church.” Is this a political correctness thing? Sign me, Peekop Andropov

You really shouldn’t mix parking and religion in polite company around here.

After all, most Durangoans believe rock-star parking is their God-given right.

Yet internal-combustion vehicle storage procedures aren’t mentioned even once in the Bible, Quran, Torah, Tripitaka or Egyptian Book of the Dead.

On the other hand, the sacred canon that is the Durango Municipal Code has an entire 9,000-word epistle on the subject, with the word “parking” appearing 138 times.

It makes one wonder: Why don’t we see bracelets with the letters WWJP – Where Would Jesus Park?

In any case, the religion/parking unholy alliance was the basis of a complaint a couple of years ago by a member of the Durango Skeptics & Atheists.

The local group also includes agnostics and humanists. They meet monthly downtown. Find out more at durangoskepticsandatheists.org .

One of the group’s main goals is to “promote and defend secularism and the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.”

So, the city’s original signs read: “No Parking. Church Service Excepted.”

Thus, you have an official city sign stating that members of a religion receive special dispensation from local laws.

Um. Yah-no.

“You can’t say church-goers get preferential treatment,” said Wade Moore, the city’s parking operations manager, “even if it’s well-meaning.”

Normally, the signs would have to come down and be replaced, an expensive endeavor.

However, a compromise was reached in which thick white industrial tape would cover the word “church,” leaving the sign to simply say “Services Excepted.”

Allow Action Line to use the bully pulpit to hail this civil civic solution. Pray tell how we can have more conciliation to avoid church-state conflicts!

There’s an added benefit to having signs merely say “services.”

“It covers non-Sunday events, such as memorials or funerals, especially at Hood Mortuary, where parking can be tight,” Wade said.

When a “service” needs a median parking exception, the city’s code enforcement department is notified. Code will pass along the word to the parking staff, police officers and other ticket-writers.

But if you’re a lone “service provider” – think plumbers, babysitters, electricians, mobile massage therapists, etc. – don’t interpret East Third Avenue’s signs as offering free parking for you.

The city will enforce the parking law religiously, lack of “church” notwithstanding.

In the meantime, there is another important rule governing Durango’s ballyhooed Boulevard.

You are forbidden to trot your pony down the grassy, church-lined islands.

Section 4-28 of the City Code reins in such activity:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to ride, lead or drive horses upon the public parks or public sidewalks of the city or upon any part of the parkway located in the center of Third Avenue in the city.”

So let’s review.

You can’t ride horses on the parkway. But you can park a 120-horsepower vehicle along the parkway if there are services.

However, service providers can’t park along the parkway. Instead, sevicers should drive to a driveway to park.

As they say, Action Line is at your service.

But let’s hope you have many, many more years before your service takes place, creating the penultimate parking problem.

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 follow Yogi Berra’s advice: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

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