Waynesburg residents want more of it. Downtown businesses want more of it. Waynesburg University members want more of it.
“People get upset about parking probably more so than they do over us arresting them for different stuff,” Waynesburg Police Chief Tom Ankrom said. “Most of our complaints if we are going to have them at this [police station] window are going to be over people’s parking issues.”
In an article published in The Yellow Jacket Nov. 22 titled “Strength in Numbers,” Four Kidz Kandy, Joe Riggs Sporting Goods, Fashion Shoppe and Scotty’s Pizza all said parking has influenced customers’ decisions negatively to shop at local businesses downtown.
While these concerns keep circulating, the borough is not adding more parking in the town. Simply put, “there is no place to expand,” Michael Simms, Waynesburg borough manager, said.
The borough has made changes to parking and has added spots over the past years. Parking in downtown Waynesburg currently entails two-hour street parking, one-hour lot parking and $30-per-month lot parking.
Ankrom explained that street parking used to be enforced with parking meters instead of the two-hour limit. However, the meters hurt businesses because of how long people could stay in the spots.
“It’s like a double-edged sword. You have the people who are getting cited for parking in violation of two-hours or curb distance or whatever it may be,” Ankrom said. “If you don’t move them, then business owners get upset because other people can’t frequent their business.”
The six parking lots scattered across downtown Waynesburg are for the employees who come to the town. Ankrom estimated that there are roughly 500 that come into the downtown during the weekdays. Lot one is leased to the county for its employees at the Greene County Courthouse. Only one lot consistently has a waiting list, said Simms: lot six. All the other lots currently have available spaces.
As for the monthly $30 for a designated parking spot in the lots, the amount was raised from $25 and $20 at the beginning of this month. Simms said the amount remained the same for years and needed a raise to increase the parking funds necessary to care for roads and parking lots.
Despite the current problem, Simms and Ankrom both believe parking will not become any worse. Ankrom said the population of the town, if anything, has decreased over the years.
“The business uptown [and] the county all roughly stay the same,” Ankrom said.
Waynesburg University’s parking situation is a similar story. Michael Humiston, director of the Department of Public Safety, said parking is “an absolute problem.” The university has implemented as much parking as they can and brainstormed to no avail. Some students have approached the university’s administration with a proposal for a parking garage. That idea, Humiston explained, is not a practical plan.
“First of all, a parking garage is millions of dollars and we’ll never get back what we paid to put in a parking garage by selling parking passes,” Humiston said. “Because we live in southwestern Pennsylvania, building a parking garage made of steel and cement with this weather is going to deteriorate after an x amount of years and still not have it paid off.”
In recent years, Humiston said more incoming freshmen have brought a car onto campus. The university does limit how many freshmen can bring a car, around 90-110 said Chris Hardie, assistant dean of student services, who handles freshmen parking. While there is a limit, Humiston explained freshmen feel they need a car more than freshmen in the past.
“The people who probably are getting shafted the most are the commuters because the resident students are not parking in our lots because they don’t have a decal and they are going to get a citation. They are now parking on the streets which is where the commuters park. So it’s a trickle-down effect,” Humiston said.
This trickle effect also affects faculty and staff who do not have designated parking spots. The car total increase forces commuters and some faculty and staff to park around the town. Chief Ankrom said the Waynesburg Police Department has cited students who have overstayed the two-hour parking or park in spots intended for residents. This problem, however, is not one that has caused many issues, said Ankrom.
Humiston said the university has considered enlarging certain lots that have space around them such as the Stover Campus Center parking lot and turning one of the parks into a lot. The problem with those solutions is that it would destroy nature and underground wiring. Also, the parks are under borough control, not the university’s control.
“I get that we don’t want to make this a blacktop university; we take away the foliage and the grass that beautifies our institution,” Humiston said. “Aesthetically, it is not very pleasing.”
Parking in downtown Waynesburg will probably never become less of an issue. Unless more space or a solution around the restriction is found, more parking is not coming any time soon.