By CAMERON ASHLEY
On Apr. 17, the representatives of Fredericksburg City’s Parking Advisory Committee held an open forum for members of the UMW community to express their concerns about a new potential parking plan.
The representatives included Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Lynne Richardson, City Councilor Tim Duffy and a representative from Economic Development Authority, Joe Wilson. The committee wrote a recommendation to give to the city to deal with parking problems and is still attempting to finalize a recommendation after their previous effort was rejected. The new recommendation would have several changes to parking that would affect UMW’s students, faculty and staff.
The first part of the plan is the get rid of the “No UMW Student Parking” signs that are on the streets near campus.
“The committee and the city [are] committed to removing the ‘No UMW Student’ parking signs from all city streets near the campus,” said committee member Joe Wilson. “There has been a question raised about its discrimination against a certain class of citizen and I’ve learned that there are quite a few folks in the neighborhood that don’t consider it very welcoming to the students.”
The second step in the plan is establishing resident-only parking permits for College Heights and College Terrace. The committee has already spoken with College Heights residents, and the neighborhood board has agreed to establish parking permits effective from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All other times parking will be open to the public, including UMW students, faculty and staff.
“The recommendation was 24/7. The residents themselves didn’t see the need for 24/7 restricted parking for a couple of reasons. One is, quite frankly, they don’t want to have to get permits for their visitors on the evenings and weekends when there is adequate parking in the neighborhoods. They wanted to focus on when there was parking from outside the neighborhood,” responded Joe Wilson.
The third and final addition to the plan is to have the west side of College Avenue become residential parking, and having the campus side remain public parking.
A large number of faculty and staff attended the forum. Many expressed their concerns in a heated discussion. The greatest concern was the fact that parking in the adjacent neighborhoods would no longer be available. It seemed to be a general consensus that UMW faculty and staff struggles were not being accounted for.
“It is not a compromise from the point of view… [of] people who work here,” said Dr. Craig R. Vasey, professor of classics, philosophy and religion. “It is not a compromise to say, ‘you can’t park there at times which you need to park there’. That’s just not a compromise.” Vasey also offered up other ideas than what the committee was proposing. He was met with firm assurance that the committee had discussed this before.
Members of the UMW community are worried that the residential parking changes pose a threat to campus events.
“A lot of our events begin at 5 p.m. and end around 7 p.m. so those hours wouldn’t really help us with our events,” stated Professor Jon McMillan from the art department. If the neighborhoods are not open for parking, the public who wish to attend events on campus will struggle to find spots.
A primary issue for the committee is the removal of the “No UMW student parking” signs. “By taking down the ‘No UMW Student’ parking signs and not putting something in place of that, you’re bringing in a whole other population back in and actually increasing demand [for] parking so the city has to do something to protect its residents,” stated Joe Wilson.
The Fredericksburg City’s Parking Advisory Committee plans to meet with the board of College Terrace on Apr. 26, which UMW students and faculty are able to attend.