GLENS FALLS -- Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond has temporarily suspended the vendor permit of a Mr. Ding-A-Ling ice cream truck operator because of aggressive sales tactics that created a safety hazard.
The city received three complaints this year about Panay Olsen, the operator, driving too close to pedestrians or children playing, according to a letter Diamond wrote Oct. 1 notifying Olsen of the 30-day suspension.
The suspension prohibits her from operating on city streets or at city-owned parks and playgrounds for 30 days.
On Sept. 25, at about 6:15 p.m. in Crandall Park, Olsen drove her ice cream truck onto a newly sodded area where several children were playing soccer, and continued to drive across the field toward the field house, coming within 6 yards of three children, according to the letter, which The Post-Star obtained under the state Freedom of Information Law.
“The complainant states that you appeared to be unaware of the children playing near the path of your vehicle as you continued across the field, thereby putting the health and safety of those children at risk,” Diamond wrote.
Previously, on May 27, Olson became argumentative when an event organizer at Crandall Park instructed her she was not in her assigned spot at Memorial Day activities.
“The complainant states that you became agitated, slamming your vehicle into reverse, retreating from the field at a high rate of speed in a manner that put those on the field in potential danger,” Diamond wrote.
The city also received a previous unspecified complaint, according to the letter.
Olsen attended the Glens Falls Common Council meeting on Tuesday and apologized for her behavior.
“I want to take responsibility for anything I did wrong,” she said, speaking during the public comment period.
Olsen, of Queensbury, said she has been selling ice cream for 14 years and the business is her livelihood.
On Wednesday, Olsen contacted The Post-Star and denied she threatened anyone’s safety.
She said she did drive across the grass, but she was not angry and was not driving fast, as the city claims.
She said her vehicle has multiple mirrors, and she would have seen the children if she was close to them.
“I didn’t do those angry things they are accusing me of,” she said.
She said she went to the Common Council meeting “to make peace” with city officials and would have specifically denied the charges if she had realized a reporter was covering the meeting.
Diamond said Olsen should meet with city officials to discuss the concerns and how her permit can be reinstated.
As of Wednesday, the city had issued 22 mobile food permits so far this year, but Olsen’s was the only annual permit, said City Clerk Robert Curtis.
Five permits were on a seasonal basis, and 16 on a weekly basis.
Vendors buy weekly permits in order to sell food at a specific event.
The Oct. 1 letter states that Olsen’s permit was suspended for 30 days.
“Please be aware that failure to abide by this suspension is punishable by a fine of up to $200 and/or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days.” Diamond wrote.
In addition to her ice-cream truck work, Olsen delivers newspapers for The Post-Star as an independent contractor, but she is not an employee of the paper.