Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass adds night-time parking enforcement

By Justin Saglio

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Chelsea Whitton/Collegian

Beginning in early March, students accustomed to parking after ticketing hours in certain areas of the University of Massachusetts campus returned to their vehicles bewildered to see yellow citation envelopes under their windshield wipers.

Amid an increased volume of illegal parking in certain areas of campus, UMass employees began patrolling late into the night, adding a two-man shift that allows Parking Services to ticket from 5:00 p.m. until midnight, said UMass Police Department chief Johnny Whitehead.

Before the increased ticketing effort from campus employees began, night-time parking enforcement was the responsibility of the UMass police department, Whitehead explained.  Officers would check to ensure fire and emergency lanes were kept clear.

“The police department [have] asked for years to get University parking employees to work evening hours,” he said. “It tied us up during our busiest time on our busiest days.”

In order to reduce the need for police officers to enforce parking at night, UMPD officials looked to the Parking and Transportation Advisory Board to see what solutions were available, said Whitehead. The board serves the campus by “reviewing, evaluating and recommending policies and proposals related to parking and transportation on the Amherst Campus,” the committee website says.

Tickets issued to vehicles in areas not designated for parking, including the area outside the W.E.B. DuBois library, added to the $700,000 in ticketing fees collected by parking services annually, said Robert Hendry, a Parking Services coordinator.

“Parking violations outside the library were a problem this year in particular,” Whitehead said. “Emergency vehicles can’t get to the library if cars are in fire lanes.”

In order to avoid being ticketed while using the library, Whitehead recommended using the campus parking garage. Students can have their ticket stamped to rebate the first hour in the garage, he said.

Hendry described the night parking enforcement program as a pilot and said, that “there is nothing set in stone to say it will last forever.”

Whitehead agreed, saying the verdict is still out about whether the program will succeed in making the campus safer for emergency vehicles.

 “We will see if [the parking situation] has gotten any better during finals,” he said. “That’s the test.”

One student who isn’t thrilled with the new policy is Matthew Sypek, a junior music education major at UMass. Sypek said he was ticketed behind the Fine Arts Center after a University Orchestra Concert on March 6, around 9 p.m. Sypek said he didn’t believe his car was hindering emergency vehicles.

“It wasn’t blocking anything,” he said. “I think it’s a waste of money.”

Sypek’s fine and other students will go toward the UMass Parking Services Scholarship Fund, said Hendry.

“It is the largest source of non-discretionary funding offered to financial aid,” he said. “It can go to anyone. The money is not tied to a specific demographic.”

Justin Saglio can be reached at [email protected]

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