Customers who arrived at the Baltimore Parking Authority's digs on West Lombard Street received a holiday surprise yesterday when they found the office was closed for a staff party during business hours.
Peter E. Little, executive director of the authority, acknowledged that the office started turning away customers yesterday at 11:30 a.m., with his permission and that of the agency's board.
"Once a year, we do close down a little bit early so we can have a Christmas party," Little said. The office, which handles the city's residential parking permit program, is normally open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Little said.
The Baltimore Sun was alerted to the shutdown by a Baltimore resident who left her job in Washington early to pick up a permit and found the office locked - with paper covering the window and the sounds of a party inside. The customer, who asked that her name not be used, said she was told through the door that the office was closed.
Little said notice of the closing was posted on the authority's Web site, and he expressed dismay that a customer had not received the word.
"That is not our intention to disserve our customers in this regard," he said. "It hasn't been an issue in the past. This would cause us to reconsider that."