By JOHN JAMISON
On Nov. 14, the Fredericksburg City Council discussed and decided not to move forward with a new parking plan that would have affected the entire UMW community. The proposed plan from the City’s Parking Advisory Committee was instead sent back by the Council. Intended to take effect in January, the original plan proposed a resident permit parking system that would make the streets in the College Heights and College Terrace neighborhoods off limits to the general public including the faculty, staff and student body of UMW.
On Nov. 16, the City’s Parking Advisory Committee met to reconsider the more highly contested aspects of the plan, namely the aforementioned neighborhood parking and the availability of parking along College Avenue, turning the UMW side of College Avenue into 2 hour metered parking.
The concerns on the part of the city are expressed in the minutes of their Nov. 16 meeting, “A majority of the Committee believes…that any system must provide residents with a greater opportunity to park near their homes during peak high parking demand periods and must also provide protections from long term parking in the neighborhood by those who do not reside in the neighborhood.” No formal action was taken by the Committee, but they are meeting again on Dec. 14.
On the side of UMW, the proposed parking plan drew concern from students and staff alike. In a letter to the Fredericksburg City Council, Dr. Craig R. Vasey, who is a professor of philosophy, classics, and religion said, “limiting parking on College Ave to 2 hours effectively eliminates parking for UMW employees, faculty and students.”
Dr. Vasey’s concern for parking relates to the time constraint and the loss of available parking spaces.
“About 50 percent of houses on Payne, Brent, Dandridge, Colony, etc., have driveways, so eliminating dozens of parking spaces for UMW employees and faculty is simply unnecessary,” said Vasey in his letter. For students and faculty who commute to campus, the proposed plan would have potentially caused issues and resentment. “This plan will cause endless resentment of the City and Public Works by everyone at UMW who does not walk to work.”
Dr. Vasey voiced these same concerns in person to the City Council and UMW was further supported by a student representing the SGA and the Off-Campus Student Association. These two are not alone in their opposition to the proposed parking changes. A message from the UMW Parking Task Force cited further concern.
“Many of you have contacted member of the Fredericksburg City Council about the proposed parking changes in the City of Fredericksburg and, in particular those that will impact the University of Mary Washington,” according to the email.
Students have expressed concern about how a change in the parking policy may interfere with their class schedules, and ability to park around campus. “I have back to back classes and they take more than 2 hours total,” said senior English major Will Atkinson. “There’s no way I’d be able to find a new parking spot between those classes.”
“I typically try to park along College (Ave) when I come to campus,” said senior commuter student Bethany Johansen. “It would suck if they added meters and turned it into paid parking.” The neighborhood residents and the UMW community alike will need to wait until the Parking Committee will meet next on Dec. 14 for any further developments.