Now that classes are back in session, Shepherdstown has eliminated free parking on several of its streets and lowered the posted speed limit on all town maintained roads, from 25 to 20 mph.
David Ransom, chief of Shepherdstown Police, contacted The Picket in an effort to ensure students are aware of several changes in Shepherdstown. Once classes were dismissed last semester, Shepherdstown changed the 90 minutes only parking areas throughout town to free parking areas. Ransom described these areas as providing “an opportunity for tourists and visitors to park and enjoy the town” during the summer months.
However, as of Aug. 19, all of these locations reverted back to their previous timed parking restrictions. Parking beyond the allotted time will result in a $40 fine, per offense. Ransom describes the rationale for the change as an effort to “keep the flow of parking going so that everyone has a chance to park around town.”
Ransom acknowledged that his office does not set the rates for the fines. There is a parking committee, made up of town residents, that handles fines. Over the past five years, the average amount collected per year in parking fines is $86,861. Those who receive parking tickets and wish to contest them may do so before the parking committee, which meets the last Thursday of each month at 9:45 a.m. at town hall.
Several streets now have lower speed limits posted than previous semesters. Ransom indicated that the West Virginia state code enables towns to lower speed limits for any town maintained roads. Those maintained by the state, like German Street, may not have a limit lower than 25 mph. The town hopes lower speed limits will keep students and town residents safer as they walk or bike.
Ransom reminded students that using any sort of cell phone while driving is a primary offense and that officers are empowered to stop any driver they see doing so. Additionally, in an effort to stay safe recommendations are being made that after dark students travel in pairs or groups, and remain aware of their surroundings at all times.
Steve McKenzie, a 2013 Shepherd graduate, expressed his frustration with the current state of parking in the town: “If a town wants to accommodate business from a college, it should provide the resources required to host a college-namely housing and parking.”
A number of students rely on bicycles for transportation around campus and town. Jade Flamenco, a senior English and environmental science major, lives in town and attends classes throughout the campus. When asked about the parking changes he indicated they would not affect him, due to bicycling, but indicated the lower speed limits will keep students and bikers safer.
In an email sent to campus officials, Chief Ransom expressed his desire that the town wants students to be aware of the changes and follow them so that everyone has “a safe school year.”