Marietta committee discusses parking

MARIETTA – As Marietta College students return for the 2013-2014 school year, concerns have resurfaced about on-street parking in the general neighborhoods along Fifth and Sixth streets and Whites Lane just north of the college campus.

The age-old issue was discussed briefly during Wednesday’s meeting of city council’s streets and transportation committee.

“Parking spaces on city streets in front of homes are not private spaces, and college kids park there when school is in session,” said Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, who chairs the streets committee.

He said some residents along Sixth Street have expressed concern that parking spaces on the streets near their homes will soon be taken up by incoming students.

“But I don’t know if there’s anything the city or college can do about this,” Abicht said.

Dan Bryant, Marietta College chief financial officer, said one thing the college does to help with the problem is try to limit students bringing cars to school.

“Freshmen are not supposed to have cars unless there are special circumstances like a medical reason,” he said.

Fred Smith, MC’s physical plant director, agreed.

“That’s also a retention issue for us that helps improve enrollment,” he said. “Parents are often appreciative that we don’t allow incoming freshmen to have cars.”

Abicht said council members were hopeful the new college parking lot along Seventh Street would help relieve the parking concerns in the Fifth and Sixth street areas.

Bryant said college officials would remind students about the availability of on-campus parking and ask them to be mindful of parking on residential streets.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, noted that meetings have been held with neighborhood residents in past years to help address the issue, and resulted in the painting of parking spaces to help alleviate crowding of cars parked along the city streets. He said some spaces have been designated for handicapped parking only.

City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp said the parking is difficult to enforce because the city cut back on parking attendants after parking meters were removed from city streets and parking lots a few years ago.

He added that police patrols can issue tickets for vehicles parked beyond the two-hour limit set for on-street parking, but those officers often have to respond to vehicle accidents or other issues that take priority over parking.

Abicht said the college and city would just have to continue doing the best they can to keep the parking situation under control.