According to Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer and several German Street business owners, the overflow of students parking in town has been a chronic source of trouble to businesses as well as residents.
“[In some cases], residents have to pay a parking fee just to park in front of their own house. The town has to increase its budget for parking enforcement and businesses are definitely adversely affected,” said Auxer.
Parking spaces on German Street that would otherwise be used for patrons of local business are being occupied by Shepherd students which, in turn, discourages locals and tourists alike from frequenting these businesses.
Allie Casserley, a retail clerk at the German Street Coffee and Candlery, said, “We have a lot of locals that live on the outskirts of town that simply don’t come during the school year, but as soon as the semester ends, they come quite often. The parking situation is not very business-friendly.”
Regina Wines, owner of Betty’s Diner, agrees with Casserley on the subject of students parking in Shepherdstown. “In 2001, Shepherdstown tourism was booming. As years have passed, though, business has slowed and it’s all because of parking,” said Wines. “Because students are parking in town, the town has had to designate residential parking. Some visitors don’t realize they have parked in one of these zones and return to their cars to find a substantial ticket. I have had so many visitors tell me they will never come back because of the parking.”
Not all business owners agree, however. Garth Janssen, owner of Lost Dog Coffee, said, “My business is not impacted in any way by the lack of parking. If a company provides a good or service that people actually want, there isn’t a problem.”
Janssen cited O’Hurley’s as a good example, saying, “People from all over have heard about it. It’s a great place. It’s not even in the central business district, but people have no problem walking there because they sell goods that people want and they have created an atmosphere that people enjoy. Furthermore, tourists come expecting to walk around town.”
Wednesday morning tourists Kay and Ray Robinson of Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C., agree with Janssen on the subject of tourist expectations: “You think there is a parking crisis here, you should visit Washington or New York,” said Ray Robinson, “Coming out here is great; the commercial center is so small that everything is in walking distance.”
The only issue that the Robinsons expressed was that people from the city rarely have change because their meters accept credit cards and transactions can now be made with smartphone applications. They suggested that businesses put up signs offering to exchange cash for meter coinage.
These differing opinions of how the lack of town parking affects business, however, offers no explanation as to why student parking is overflowing into the town.
Chief of the Shepherd University police department, John McAvoy, said that he sees students double parked for hours waiting for a spot in A-lot to become vacant. “H-lot has 766 parking spaces alone. Filling that lot is quite an undertaking in itself,” said McAvoy. “Only once, during the second week of school, have I seen it filled. And even then there were still spots available.”
McAvoy explained that each student gets a list of rules and regulations when they apply for a parking permit.
Article K of the rules and regulations states: “Students should always park on campus when attending class or University events. Please avoid discourteous and illegal parking around or in front of a town residence or on German Street.”
Students are still parking in these areas regardless of the rule and regulations.
Jake Smith, a senior in the Biology Department, said, “I have never seen lots F,G and H full. Many students view getting from west to east campus as an inconvenience. Students need to stop being lazy and just walk.”
Both Auxer and McAvoy ask students to please consider parking on west campus and either walk or utilize the Pan Tran.
To this, McAvoy added, “Students would save so much time if they parked in H-lot and took the Pan Tran instead of waiting for parking to open in A-lot or searching through town for a spot. I mean, that is what the Pan Tran is for.”