Construction, large freshman class complicates next year’s parking arrangement
By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH
As the largest freshman class in the University of Mary Washington’s history finishes out their first semester, concerns of next year’s parking situation begin to spread across campus. Next year the current freshman class will be eligible to register for parking permits on campus, making the fight for parking spaces more competitive, especially with the promise of future construction.
As of now, the university’s Parking Management office does not allow freshmen students to register for vehicles, though exceptions are allowed. Despite the large number of incoming students, approximately 1,380, the number of incoming students applying for exceptions did not rise, according to Robin Jones, parking management supervisor.
Next year, however, the department is expecting a sharp increase in vehicle registrations as freshmen students become sophomores and are permitted to bring their vehicles to campus.
According to Jones, a budget and funding request was made following a parking study that took place in February 2014 for a new, much needed parking deck. If the request is approved, construction for the parking deck could begin as early as 2017.
As the number of incoming students is expected to rise in the next few years, Jones said that the parking management office will make sure to accommodate students who need assistance with parking or with registering their vehicles. “Parking Management will do our best to accommodate each eligible student wishing to bring a vehicle to campus,” Jones said.
Parking has fluctuated in the past few years due to the construction of the University Center, which restricted parking in sections of College Avenue and removing the Chandler Hall parking lot. However, parking for all UMW decals became available at the Pizza Hut parking lot, and as of this semester, any vehicle with a UMW decal can park in the first three floors of the UMW Parking Deck rather than being limited to one floor only.
In addition, on Monday through Wednesday, four commuter parking spaces and two UMW Apartment parking spaces were unavailable at the parking lot at the intersection of William Street and Sunken Road.
One entrance and one exit from the lot was also blocked away. This was due to a shared box with Verizon wireless that needed to be fixed, according to Jones, who said Emergency Management and Safety put in the request.
This semester, 1,041 commuter students had received parking decals. Of these 1,041, 909 included actual vehicle registration and 132 included back-up vehicles.
In addition, 833 residents received parking decals this semester. These residents are from Eagle Landing, UMW apartments and residential students who live in the central areas of campus. These issued decals include 804 issued for registration purposes and 29 were replacements to the original for a variety of reasons. How does parking match with these numbers?
Currently, there are 37 parking designations listed on UMW’s website and 2,565 parking spaces altogether, according to Parking Management’s records for the 2015 fiscal year. These spaces include parking for students living in residence halls, Eagle Landing, UMW apartments, commuter students, handicapped spaces and faculty and staff parking.
Though parking options are available, parking near academic buildings can be a challenge. Colin Chadduck, a graduate student studying geospatial analytics, said he has heard complaints from commuting students that parking is limited near buildings where they have classes. “I do have a lot of friends who do have trouble finding parking spaces near academic buildings,” Chadduck said. “This campus is designed for people who live on campus.” He added that UMW’s Stafford location is more geared toward commuting students.
Jones said that for those looking for available parking when College Avenue is full, there is available parking on the first floor of the UMW Parking deck and at the Battleground Complex in parking lot no. 33 next to the soccer fields.
“We do have available parking, however it’s just not as close as everyone would prefer it to be,” Jones said. She also said the department has heard from students and faculty members that there is not enough parking on campus.
Brianna Costache, a senior psychology and English double major, said that she lives in the Stratford Apartments near campus and does not use a car. However, she said she has heard from her other friends who commute that it can be difficult to find space during morning classes. “I never had a car here, but my friends sometimes [say] in the morning around 10, [parking] can be hard to find,” Costache said.
Parking in incorrectly designated spaces has also been an issue. According to Jones, 189 citations were issued this semester for vehicles not parked in the correct parking areas. Of these 189 citations, 90 were students and the other 99 were a combination of all campus community members.
Freshmen students also had something to say about driving on campus. While some were initially excited to have a vehicle next year, Kyle Stephens said he would be moving into campus housing next year and does not plan to register a vehicle. “It’s easier to get around places here,” Stephens said.
Though the campus is small, Ashly Adkins, a freshman, said a vehicle could be necessary to reach places that could not be accessible on campus. “When I was really sick and needed to go to Patient First, there wasn’t really a way to get there,” Adkins said.
In the meantime, parking will continue to fluctuate as current construction finishes and new projects come underway.