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Charly Haley , Published February 03 2013

MSUM hosting town hall meeting to discuss parking concerns

MOORHEAD – Many college commuters here are faced with a common problem: When they reach campus, they can’t find a place to park.

The problem was magnified last week with Moorhead’s first emergency snow removal Wednesday and Thursday, when more than 130 street parkers near Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead were towed after not following the city’s new snow removal district parking regulations.

Students, college and city officials and area residents are reacting to the issue.

Concordia waived all on-campus tickets from Jan. 29, 30 and 31 because of the confusion and people’s fear of being towed.

“Some people pulled into any lot to get out of the street,” said Roger Degerman, communications director at Concordia.

MSUM is hosting a public meeting Thursday with Moorhead City Council members Mark Altenburg and Heidi Durand so students and residents can voice their concerns.

The snow district, along with other parking rules near the colleges, were established this summer by the City Council to relieve the issues with student street parking in residential areas.

Resident Robert Jobgen, who has owned his 13th Street home near MSUM since 1994, has had problems over the years with student parking, but he said the city’s new three-hour parking rule – one of those passed this summer – doesn’t help.

Within the designated area around MSUM’s campus, people can only park in three-hour intervals from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday from Aug. 15 to May 15 each year.

“All that does is prevent me from parking in front of my own house,” Jobgen said. “It doesn’t alleviate the parking problem.”

The three-hour parking rule also frustrates commuters.

MSUM student Eli Ahres lives in Fargo and commutes to school, parking on the street because he doesn’t have a parking permit, which costs $55 per semester.

Ahres moves his car in between classes to avoid being ticketed and ends up late for class.

“It’s frustrating,” he said.

The city is working to fix those concerns of homeowners and students, Altenburg said.

When the new rules were introduced, the council promised campus-area residents they would get some type of pass to park on the street by fall 2013, Altenburg said. The council wanted one year to assess the situation, but they will have an answer this fall, he said.

“We’re still working on it, still tweaking it,” he said. “We want to make this work for the community.”

One consideration with the resident passes is keeping track of them with the high turnover of renters near the colleges, Altenburg said.

Altenburg is also working with state representatives to address a law that prevents MSUM as a public institution from offering free parking like Concordia.

According to a parking study released by the city, MSUM has more off-campus students driving to school than Concordia.

MSUM has about 7,500 students and provides a total of 3,011 parking spots for faculty, visitors and students – 2,284 of which require parking permits, said Greg Lemke, director of Public Safety.

Concordia has 1,067 residential students with cars, and 492 commuting students, Degerman said. The campus has just shy of 2,000 parking spots for faculty, visitors and students, 1,500 of which require permits.


IF YOU GO

What: Town hall meeting with Moorhead City Council members Mark Altenburg and Heidi Durand to discuss parking

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Minnesota State University Moorhead, Comstock Memorial Union Ballroom C

Info: This meeting is open to the public and is for both campus-area residents and students to share their concerns.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311