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The Blue & Gray Press | December 11, 2017

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William Street parking lot sees rearrangements for residents and commuters

William Street parking lot sees rearrangements for residents and commuters

By STEPHANIE COOK

Many University of Mary Washington students struggle with the lack of available parking, but recently the university has taken steps to address this issue. Last fall parking management began taking steps to find more spaces for UMW students to park. Parking management noticed that the William Street lot often boasted around 50 empty spots, and decided to take action and allow for some UMW resident students to park there.

Last month, parking management re-designated 23 parking spots in the William Street lot as UMW resident student parking. The 23 re-designated spots sit adjacent to Sunken Road, and are marked with yellow signs to signal to campus residents that they are now permitted to park in these spots. The William Street lot now contains 83 spots for apartment residents, 84 for commuters and 23 for campus residents.

The notion to create residential spots in the William Street lot first passed through Business Services before ultimately being approved by the Vice President for Administration and Finance. Parking management plans to monitor the usage of these spots in the coming months, as they are always looking for ways to improve parking.

The reactions to allowing commuters and residents alike to park in the UMW Apartments lot are mostly ones of surprise, as many students did not even know non-UMW Apartment students were allowed to park in the William Street lot.

An e-mail was sent out to students from parking management and director of media and public relations Marty Morrison, noting this change on Jan. 11, but most students still had no idea the change had occurred.

The change appears to leave apartment residents with mixed feelings. While some students have expressed concern for the large number of commuter spots taking up space in a residential lot, many appear to feel indifferent about the matter. While some apartment students have noticed commuters parking in the lot, it seems almost no one noticed the campus residents were using the lot as well.

Additionally, students who do not move their cars during the day, say they really have not seen any significant change in residential or commuter students parking in the lot, and find open parking in the William Street lot quite easily.

Meghan Suess, a junior accounting major, was surprised to hear changes had even been made to the parking lot, and remarked that the William Street lot often has many spots open, just that the “parking spots in front of the apartments are usually full.”

Grace Howie, a junior communications and digital studies major, shared a similar perspective, saying, “Honestly I didn’t realize that this change was made and I park my car there every day.”

Howie expressed concern for the commuter students, and said she believes the change affects them more than it does the residential students. Commuters who park in the William Street lot may still have to walk across campus to get to their classes, and as many commuter students during the mid-day are coming from traffic-heavy situations or work, it is harder for these students to get to class on time during the week if they have to spend time searching for parking.

Commuter parking spots along College Avenue often fill up early in the morning, and stay occupied until late at night.

Similarly, many campus parking areas fill up quickly and tend to stay full, including the Marshall Lot, and the few spots behind Randolph Hall. The push for parking management to allocate more room for residential students is one that has been increasing over the years.

Tykasia Gaskins, a junior sociology major noted that she did not like the lot being composed of mostly commuter spots, saying, “[Apartment residents] barely have anywhere to park during the week, and the commuters already have the main street to park on, plus the big parking lot behind Alvey.” Gaskins shared the same sentiment as Suess, claiming that finding parking in front of the apartments is very hard during the week.

Commuters, campus residents and UMW Apartment residential students all pay the same amount of money each year for a parking decal. All commuters, apartment residents and campus residents pay $225 a year for a decal, while Eagle Landing residents pay $375 a year for a decal. Any student that chooses to bring their car to school is required to purchase a decal from parking management in Lee Hall and place the decal on the back of their vehicle.

This allows parking management to confirm whether or not a student is parked in the right place and whether giving a ticket is warranted. Residential students are marked by a yellow decal, UMW Apartments residents are given black decals, Eagle Landing residents are issued a green decal and commuters all have red decals.

The Parking Management Department is recruiting for a Student Parking Advisory Committee should any students be interested in giving their opinion about campus parking.