It’s that time of year again — there’s no parking on a stretch of Route 79 or Slaterville Road east of the City of Ithaca. The Town of Ithaca made parking there illegal a couple of years ago to help reduce illegal swimming and dangerous jumping in Six Mile Creek.
Town residents have complained for several years about the increasing number of gorge swimmers making excess noise, leaving behind trash, and clogging the shoulders along Route 79 and other nearby roads. Residents had also complained about shoulders clogged with extra parked cars making it difficult to see traffic to pull out of their driveways safely.
In 2012, the Town Board succeeded in convincing the New York State Department of Transportation to make parking along Route 79, or Slaterville Road, illegal for the summer. Parking isn’t allowed along the posted portion of Route 79 from 10am to 8pm, from May 1st to September 30th, near Penny Lane and Commonland, and near Pine Tree Road and the apartments across the road.
The Town of Ithaca doesn’t have its own police force, but Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department deputies can ticket illegally parked cars and arrange for them to be towed. Town authorities have recently begun enforcing the parking ban and towing cars.
The intent of the swimming ban and the resulting parking ban isn’t just to keep people from having fun. Besides the noise, littering, and other nuisances, people get hurt and die when they jump in Six Mile Creek.
Cornell and Ithaca police officers, Tompkins County sheriff’s deputies, and park rangers are patrolling the area’s gorges to remind visitors to stay on the legal trails and avoid trespassing. Even if there hasn’t been much swimming weather this spring, they’re ready to start towing illegally parked cars.