By CAITLIN WILLIAMS
In the midst of upperclassmen move-in, vehicles were crammed into each free space in order to move in their belongings.
28 students from the University of Mary Washington had their cars towed from unmarked parking spots behind the Eagle Landing Parking Deck, within the 24-hour period Thursday evening on Aug. 25 and Friday, Aug. 26.
Along the back of the parking lot behind the parking deck are multiple spots where students are clearly told via signs whether or not they are allowed to park there without being towed or ticketed. Most of the spots are for registered Eagle Landing guests, Residence Life staff members, UMW service vehicles or Eagle Village customers. No matter which category you fit under, there are signs visibly stating where and where not to park.
“All UMW spots are labeled,” said Parking Management coordinator Jean Elliot. But that is not the case for the 10 spots located right behind the Eagle Landing parking deck. Nor is it the case for the other 10 parking spots located on the other side of the Hyatt dumpsters.
Two of the eight total cars towed Thursday night were those of Nikki Ferrell and Catie Morton. The following day, 20 more cars were towed from the same spots.
Ferrell and Morton, just like most students during move-in, had not gotten their new updated parking passes for this academic year, so they parked in the unmarked spots on the far side of the Hyatt dumpsters.
With plans to go to the UMW Equestrian Team Stables, both Ferrell and Morton went to their vehicles together the following morning around 9 a.m. only to find their parking spots empty.
Both Ferrell and Morton stated that they needed to go to UMW Parking Management to renew their parking passes anyways, so while they were there, they asked about the towing of both of their vehicles.
“They scoffed and said ‘oh yeah, we should probably put some signs up,’” Ferrell said. Ferrell and Morton were given the name of the towing company, Shanks Towing, and directions to where to find their vehicles. It was only about a 5-10 minute drive from campus but it was very difficult to find.
“It looked like a trailer with just a small window to step up to and speak through the glass with a slit underneath to put your money or cards under to pay them. It was really sketchy,” Morton said.
Upon their arrival at Shanks Towing Company, the reason behind towing their vehicles was explained: they had parked in Customer Parking for Eagle Village. “You should’ve known you couldn’t park there based on where the spots were,” Ferrell was told by Shanks employee.
“We towed you because you are a UMW student and that’s customer parking and we’re allowed to do that,” Ferrell said.
After Ferrell and Morton argued that there were no signs indicating that they could not park there, they were told that they could either leave their vehicles there “until they got an attitude adjustment” or just pay the fee.
Thalhimer, the commercial real estate firm that owns Eagle Village, is responsible for putting the signs up as well as calling the towing company to move UMW cars.
“All signage at Eagle Village meets national standards for posting areas that may be subject to towing enforcement,” said Thalhimer representative Jeff Rountree. “As we fully meet the standards, more signage is not needed.”
“To prevent being towed, the best plan for an automobile owner is to not park in a tow away zone,” Rountree said.