UMass to reimburse owners of 180 towed vehicles

By Katie Landeck

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The University of Massachusetts will be reimbursing the owners of 180 vehicles that were towed from a parking lot near the North Residential Area early yesterday morning, according to a University official.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

“We are sorry for any inconvenience,” said UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski. “We want to extend our goodwill and understand that things did not go the way they should have.”

A miscommunication between Residential Life, Parking Services, and students and their families left many unaware of temporary restrictions that had been placed on the parking lot, which is known as Lot 44. The lot was closed to support a new move-in system that required the east side of campus to check in there.

“There was no barrier or sign, and the lot was full,” said junior Heather Trainor, whose car was towed.

Eddie Hull, the executive director of Residential Life, contests claims that students were not informed of the lot closure.

Hull said that an email went out to Lot 44 permit holders “almost two weeks” ago informing them of the change. In addition, he said that students were reminded of the closure at check-in, flyers were placed at entrances to the residence halls and the lots were barricaded.

In an email to a Massachusetts Daily Collegian reporter last night, Hull wrote: “I think you will agree that we did a good job in putting students in a position to be successful and avoid this unhappy circumstance.”

But many students still think they weren’t adequately informed of the change.

“They said they did everything they could,’’ said Trainor. “But 300 people didn’t get the message.”

Trainor currently holds a permit for the lower parking garage, which allows her to park in Lot 44. She said she didn’t receive an email informing her of the closure.

Lines at Ernie’s Towing – the company UMass contracts for towing services – were out the door yesterday as students and parents paid a $100 fee to retrieve their cars, according to people who were at the facility.

“It was pretty unpleasant,” said sophomore Emily Glick.

Once their cars were returned, motorists found $40 tickets – issued by Parking Services – on their windshields.

Many students were told to direct their complaints to Residential Life and Parking Services.

“I went to a cop and the cop told us to complain to housing and parking,” said Trainor. “There was a lot of pointing fingers.”

As of last night, Blaguszewski still could not say who made the call to have the cars towed or explain the logistics of the miscommunication. However, he did say that there would be an evaluation of the move-in.

“We will get together over the next few days and look at what we could do better,” said Blaguszewski.

According to Blaguszewski, upon hearing about the incident, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy decided to waive the tickets and reimburse motorists for any fines associated with the towings.

“There were a lot of great activities and successes this weekend,” Blaguszewski added. “We don’t want people to focus on this incident. We want them to feel good about UMass.”

Those seeking reimbursement should contact Parking Services at 413-545-0065.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]