Town Takes 15 Faculty Spots, Gives 16 Permits
By by CHRISTINE FRANKS, Contributing Writer
Adding to the continuing saga of the Amherst parking problem, the Town of Amherst recently allotted the College 16 parking permits, which can be used by members of the campus community to park in various locations in town, but took away 15 other spaces used by College employees.

Since the College decided to turn Newport and Mayo-Smith Houses' parking lots into faculty lots over the summer, the campus has been experiencing a parking crunch. The College hired a parking consulting firm to examine long-term solutions.

According to James Brassord, director of facilities planning and management, the permits will be available to Amherst faculty and staff members on a first come, first served basis, starting this Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Town Hall.

Brassord said that the permits, valid for one year, are part of a temporary solution to the College's parking problem, and can be used by holders to park in spaces throughout the streets of downtown Amherst. He said that he was glad the College received the permits, granted after the College petitioned the Amherst Select Board, a group of five people elected to make decisions concerning the town of Amherst.

According to Select Board Member Anne Awad, the parking permit system was created in response to the increasingly difficult parking situation in town. The system allows residents and those who work in the town to buy permits, but originally excluded both the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College communities. Thus, it created a problem for both schools' students and employees, as they could no longer park in town.

"There is a finite amount of space in Amherst, and it's really hard to find a place to put all the cars. It's one of those things with no good answers," Awad said.

Awad added that last Monday, the Town took away 15 spaces on South Pleasant Street to make space for the bike path going to South Amherst.

She said that the town is in the process of developing bike lanes to encourage commuters to use alternative modes of transportation rather than driving their cars to work. The 15 spaces interrupted the path, which created a very dangerous intersection for the bikers trying to get in between the cars and the road. According to Awad, the spaces were primarily used by employees of Amherst College.

But Brassord said he does not believe the elimination of the 15 spaces will increase parking troubles for the College.

"We were allotted 16 parking permits and, despite the loss of these spaces, I still feel it's a positive gain," he said.

Brassord said that any major changes to the College's parking policy will likely come within the next couple of weeks as it continues to evaluate its decision to allot the Mayo-Smith and Newport parking lots to faculty.

Many residents of Mayo-Smith and Newport have voiced their concerns to the dean of students' office.

Issue 03, Submitted 2000-09-20 19:32:17