Residents express parking concerns

BUCKHANNON — Some Buckhannon residents are expressing their concerns regarding parking near West Virginia Wesleyan College.

In April, two residents of College Avenue, Tim Reese and Mike McCauley, approached the city’s Consolidated Public Works Board (CPWB) stating community members have observed that during the day — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — there are vehicles parking in front of their homes.

Mayor David McCauley said residents have expressed that it is “very difficult for residents in that area to find parking in front of their house.” The mayor was referring to residents who live on College Avenue, Barbour Street and pocahontas Street.

“That neck of the woods that you might think of as being just south of the campus property — on the other side of Meade Stree primarily,” he said during Buckhannon City Council’s June 21 meeting.

Reese addressed council during that meeting, saying, “Right now on all those streets if you drive by there you’re going to see it looks like the rest of College Avenue, the rest of pocahontas Street, all the way down it looks like that.”

However, once school is in session again, Reese said, “Every single parking space from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is taken.”

“What I was concerned about was when Wesleyan first decided to take out 80-something spaces of parking from the Chapel Oval we got many reassurances that they were going to provide adequate parking,” said Reese. “Well, they made parking, but it’s not adequate and it’s not convenient.”

After speaking with multiple community members, Reese said his initial proposal was to implement a policy that would ban parking between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“It’s a very effective deterrent,” he said, adding the policy wouldn’t interfere with WVWC.

Reese added, “Those of us that live there would like to be able to unload our groceries. We’d like to have our friends and family visit without them having to walk two blocks away …”

McCauley said he recommended to the CPWB to implement an ordinance similar to one in Shepherdstown, as that college town is like Buckhannon in that there is a residential community with a university in the middle.

“We became aware a number of years ago that Shepherd had this parking policy, so we asked for a revised ordinance reflecting it,” the mayor said. “It was shared with the members of the Consolidated Public Works Board and at the May meeting with the Consolation Public Works Board, which includes council members Cuppari, Rylands and myself, (we) agreed to recommend to city council that the council take a look at this and consider a model that would be similar to the Shepherdstown model that would reserve parking for the residents in those areas close to campus.”

Should the parking policy be enforced, signage would be required, McCauley said, adding that rear view mirror placards would need to be issued to residents for their vehicle.

“This would require Tom O’Neill to consider the Shepherdstown ordinance and to come up with a model similar to what Shepherdstown did,” he continued.

O’Neill, the city attorney, noted the parking ordinance would require an amendment to designate certain streets and blocks for residential parking only.

“The question that becomes is of enforcement and are we going to require residents to obtain some kind of permit that they have to display in their window,” he said. ” … We can work it out, but it’s not as cut and dried.”

Council voted to authorize O’Neill to begin drafting an ordinance pertaining to the parking matter.