Students, staff point to parking woes

by Hannah Kuhar | 11/29/09 11:00pm

by Sarah Irving and Sarah Irving / The Dartmouth

Parking in Hanover

With an increasingly high demand for parking in Hanover, managing "a tight inventory of parking spaces" in town is an ongoing struggle for both restaurants and enforcement officials, Town Manager Julia Griffin said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Visitors to Hanover are constantly competing with downtown workers for parking spaces, she said.

"I love to say to people that I would rather work for a town with a parking problem then a town with no parking problem," Griffin said. "It indicates to me that the town is an attractive place to visit."

Griffin said that facilitating the turnover of parking spaces using meters is another key issue.

"We are fairly aggressive on the enforcement side because it's the only way to manage the fairly tight inventory of parking spaces in town," Griffin said. "When we're not, people overstay their meters without regard to other folks who want parking themselves."

Although there are no immediate plans to create additional parking, discussions with the College are ongoing, Griffin said.

"One agreement that we're finalizing with the College now will give the town 32 spaces on the top parking level of the Bank of America property," she said.

The College Real Estate Office is a partial owner of the building and controls the allocation of parking spaces on both the upper and lower levels. While the upper level is normally reserved for tenants of the building, the College has agreed to provide some spots to the Town of Hanover.

Several Main Street restaurant employees said that Hanover's parking problem directly affects their businesses.

"The complaints I get from customers and employees is that there is definitely a lack of [parking]," Danny Young, manager of Molly's Restaurant and Bar, said. "I think it discourages people from coming into town in general when they know it's going to be busy for something like a Dartmouth event."

Young said that customers are often frustrated by the tickets they receive while dining at his restaurant.

"It's an ongoing problem in the town, and I think that there definitely needs to be some kind of solution in the future," Young said. "A three or four-story garage would do wonders."

Yong Jeon, assistant manager of Yama Restaurant, said the lack of parking and high fines have also discouraged customers from eating at his restaurant.

Because customers have limited parking options, Jeon said, many will risk a ticket and park across the street in the CVS parking lot.

CVS has begun to tow up to five cars per day, he said.

"We have another restaurant in West Lebanon, and even people living closer to Hanover will eat there because the parking is easier," Jeon explained.

Nigel Leeming, owner of Murphy's on the Green, said that Hanover has become increasingly busy, contributing to the parking problem.

"What we need is to dig up the Green, put a 400-spot parking garage under there, and cover it back up," Leeming said. "It might not be able to be done because of steam pipes, but that's ideally what we would need."

While high fines may discourage customers from patronizing Hanover restaurants, the profit generated from the parking violations funds the parking system itself, including staff salaries, a portion of the shuttle bus system and public works to maintain and upgrade the parking lots, Hanover Police Lt. Patrick O'Neill, the parking division supervisor, said.

Parking on Campus

The lack of accessible parking is also a problem on the College campus.

"I definitely have noticed that when you work with student programs and come in later on in the day and stay into the evening, it is a shot of desperation to find a parking space on campus," Danielle Thompson, assistant director for student and public programs at the Rockefeller Center, said.

A shuttle bus runs to and from parking lots on the outskirts of campus, but Thompson said that it is not convenient for faculty and staff who stay on campus late into the evening, when the shuttle stops running.

"The shuttle bus that runs to and from the lower Dewey lot only comes twice per hour, starting at 10 o'clock in the morning," Thompson said. "So if you miss it, you're either walking or waiting 30 minutes for the bus to come by."

Thompson said that the alternative option finding a metered parking spot and filling the meter with quarters every two hours is equally inconvenient.

The College parking office encourages staff at the Rockefeller Center to purchase a $7 parking pass to park on Webster Avenue, but Thompson said that there is rarely enough space for everyone with passes.

While discussions about changing the parking system have been pushed aside due to the economic crisis, Thompson said that running more shuttles might provide a temporary solution.

Pat Erwin-Ploog, associate director for administration and external affairs at the Rockefeller Center, avoids the parking issue by carpooling with her husband and getting to campus before 8 a.m.

"I don't perceive [parking] as being as big a problem as we often talk about," Erwin-Ploog said. "There is space, it's just not conveniently located."

The College receives approximately $500,000 each school year from parking violation fines and permits, William Barr, director of fiscal and auxiliary services for facilities operations and management, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

The money is used for the maintenance of parking lots on campus, some salaries for parking officials and to help provide free busing in and around campus, Barr explained.

The most common student parking violation on campus is illegally parking in designated staff spaces during the day, Barr said, explaining that violations can result in a warning or up to a $50 fine depending on the location.

Ryan Akrami '11 criticized the parking office, saying it does not make its policies easily accessible to students.

"If the parking office were smart, it would put out brochures about proper procedures," Akrami said.

Akrami said that he was fined $10 for not parking within the lines of a parking space in A-lot. Akrami unsuccessfully challenged the ticket, claiming that the lot had not been plowed, making the lines undetectable.

"The College views the parking office as a revenue source, rather than a disincentive for doing unsafe parking," Akrami said.

Students receive a clear list of rules and regulations when they register their vehicles with the College, Barr said.

Julia Danford '13 said she also had trouble communicating with a College parking official when she received a ticket for "blocking the road." While she successfully appealed her ticket and received only a warning, Danford complained that the parking official was initially unclear as to the reasoning behind the violation.

Not all students, however, expressed discontent.

Peter Hagan '11, who received a $50 parking ticket, said that he was satisfied with the willingness of the College parking office to accept his ticket appeal and convert it into a warning.

"I think that the big point is that I appealed it, and they were willing to accept a late appeal from me, and they were quite judicious about it," Hagan said.

Lauren Vespoli contributed to the reporting of this article.