By GARY KNOWLES
The UMW Office of the President released a message stating that a Campus Parking Task Force will be forming in response to student concerns over the new parking policies which will take effect soon. According to many students, the most controversial change for the UMW area is that the city hopes to charge for 2-hour parking and install parking meters along the campus side of College Avenue.
Jennifer Louie, a non-degree seeking commuter student, was shocked to learn about the potential change.
Madison Reid, a junior wildlife conservation major, who lives on the residential side of College Avenue and has personally experienced difficulty finding places to park said, “during the week there are almost never any [parking] spots on my side of the road.”
Along with other students that live on College Avenue, Reid is worried that they will have a harder time finding parking, due to an increase in off-campus students trying to park in residential spots. The documents on the parking plan make it unclear as to whether or not the residential side of the street will soon be included in the city’s Residential Parking Permit Program.
Students who live in College Heights and College Terrace, the residential areas adjacent to campus, do have the option to obtain parking permits from the City of Fredericksburg, but still need a UMW parking pass to utilize other parking options.
“The meters on the university side mean that more students will try to park on our side of the road where there are no meters,” said Reid, who commutes.
Reid is worried that placing meters on the campus side of College Avenue will result in more students attempting to park in residential areas.
Maddie Tate, a junior sociology major, comes from Caroline County to get to class everyday and has frequently dealt with a variety of parking issues.
“I’ve given up scouring for street parking and I’ve resorted to the bottom level of the Alvey Parking Garage,” said Tate. “I am concerned that once the new parking plans take place for the school, then I will have a harder time finding parking since many other students will either flee to the parking deck or any other student parking areas on campus.”
Some commuter students feel like the plan did not take into consideration the impact this would have on UMW students. “I feel like it’s unfair because it’s not like [the university] can build a parking lot or parking deck anywhere around there because there isn’t any space,” said junior psychology major, commuter Wilber Galindo.
The student concerns are overwhelmingly focused on the idea that the parking lots and garages will not be enough to mitigate the loss of College Avenue parking. While there are worries, students have optimism that the parking changes may lead to some positive changes.
“[The parking changes] may decrease traffic on College Avenue, which is safer for pedestrians,” said Louie.
One of the appeals of the student parking pass for commuters has been the ability to park in designated lots and on College Avenue, where people can get a close spot to class. The proposed meters on the street would add extra financial strain to these students who have already paid up to almost $300 for UMW parking passes.
The Parking Action Plan states that, “Under a Phase one program, on-street parking meters would be installed along the east side of College Avenue to encourage long-term employees, commuting students and on-campus residents to utilize the University’s ample (but somewhat more distant) off-street spaces.”
Provided by Jess DeMers, the Graduate Assistant for Transfer and Off Campus Student Services, there is a meeting set for Oct. 10. Amanda Short, the President of the Off-Campus Student Association, will be reading a letter to the Fredericksburg City Council to further discuss the parking situation for next year. Any students wishing to show support or attend the meeting should show up, or contact DeMers for more information on signing or adding to the letter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.