City to push back campus parking restrictions

The "No Parking 10 p.m. to 6 a.m." signs that were installed in the University District this fall are already slated to get a makeover, according to Valley City City Commissioner George Dutton.
After a meeting with university officials several weeks ago, Dutton and the city decided to push the no parking restriction back two hours, making it from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. in the signed areas: Viking Drive, College Street, and 4th and 2nd Avenues SW.

The decision came after the city heard feedback from residents in the neighborhood and the university community. Many believed that ticketing those who are parked on the streets after 10 p.m. was unfair, as many campus activities and events go past that time.

Glen Schmalz, Vice President for Student Affairs at VCSU said, "I really don't know how 10 o'clock was decided on, but as soon as the signs went up, it occurred to us that maybe it wasn't the most appropriate time."

The signs were proposed in early summer as a way to ease ongoing street clearing problems. "There have always been snow removal issues over there," said Dutton. "Some of those cars sit there all week long. We wanted to keep the route clear so the snow removal can be done the same way it's done downtown."

The initial choice of 10 o'clock was to give snowplow crews time to clear the university district first before moving on to downtown. Snow routes along Main Street and Central Avenue are posted as "No Parking 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Oct.-Mar.", while the new parking restrictions in the university district are year-round.

VCSU began an email information campaign during the fall semester to inform students of the parking changes, even placing warning flyers on cars that had overstayed their welcome. After a grace period, however, the city began cracking down. Acting Valley City Police Chief Mark McDonald said the department initially gave out warnings, but as of Nov. 15, they began ticketing in the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. zones. McDonald said the VCPD has written roughly 12-15 tickets in that time frame.

"The campus and students took to this pretty well," said Schmalz. "We're proud that the students have been following the policy. We're adjusting to it, and we want to be good partners with the city."

"I hope (the community) is happy with it," Dutton said. "There's some people that would've liked to see things left the way they've always been, but we reached a pretty good compromise." He added that the new parking lot north of the university footbridge, located on the site of a FEMA buyout, was intended to help alleviate parking needs on campus.

Around 70-75 decals have been purchased at $4.30 apiece to make the "10 p.m." on each sign into a "12 a.m.". Dutton said that once the decals are shipped, city street crews will begin applying them "hopefully in mid-January".