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Parking lot snowfall causes confusion for students, police

Liz Harter | Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It happens every year at Saint Mary’s. Large amounts of lake effect snow continuously dumping on the South Bend area covers parking lots making it almost impossible to see the painted lines designating parking spaces.

When this happens, some students deal with the inability to see where one space ends and another begins by leaving a wide berth between their car and the next. Some squeeze into smaller spaces.

And some park in spaces that won’t be there when the snow melts.

While this happens in most parking lots on campus, it is most noticeable in Regina parking lot, next to Regina Hall. Here, cars stretch the length of the parking lot where, when the ground is not covered with snow, there is a path between two groups of parking spots.

This path, and an area near the side entrance to the parking lot, are often blocked with cars as students try to park closer to their dorms.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that people want to park closer to the dorms when it is very cold outside,” senior and Regina resident Lindsey Appelquist said.

She admitted to parking illegally in the lot for a day, but did not get ticketed, something which she attributes to the cold weather.

“I think that security does not ticket if it is very cold outside, but if it isn’t, they are right on it with the ticketing,” she said.

However, the lack of organized parking spaces inconveniences some who park or try to park in the lot.

Senior Deanna Molosky checked the lot to see if there was a spot open after returning to campus last week. She pulled into the side entrance of the lot and made the circuit around the student spots. When she got to the end she noticed that there were a couple of cars parked at the end of the row, where there is normally space for a car to pull through to exit the lot.

“You can tell the parking spots would usually be lined [where they were parked],” she said. “There was a space between the snow bank and the parked car, but not enough for my car to go through. I would have hit my car and theirs.”

There was no room to turn her car around so Molosky was forced to back her car down the row and around the corner just to leave the parking lot.

“It’s a convenience to park in Regina, but there are all those other people on campus who walk in the cold, [the people parked illegally] should do the same,” she said. “It’s a safety hazard and it makes the grounds [crew] work that much harder plowing around the cars. It’s a hassle and it’s unsafe.”

Dave Gariepy, director of the Department of Safety and Security at Saint Mary’s, said security routinely checks the parking lots and write citations, but it is harder to do so in the winter months. Security will also tow vehicles that are considered traffic hazards or chronic violators.

“We run into this particular problem every winter when the lots become snow-covered and the parking spaces are not clearly visible,” he said. “During warmer weather, when the lines are visible, it is much easier to enforce parking rules.”

If students see a parking violation they would like Security to address, however, Gariepy said they can call the Security department at 574-284-5000.