Seasonal parking rules limit lots as fees add up
By Eli Maroney, Contributing Writer
Midnight Dec. 1 marked the beginning of a four-month-long period in which parking on the University of New Hampshire campus, already a struggle for some, becomes legendary throughout the winter months.
The winter parking ban limits parking across campus from 12-6 a.m. to the Visitors lot, the West Edge lot and Section 4 of Lot A by the Gables. Additionally, the Gables, Woodsides, Lot E, Mast Road I and Forest Park are reserved for permit holders assigned to those lots. The ban will remain in place until 6 a.m. on March 31st. Violators are subject to towing and a $75 fee.
The ban is seen by many as a necessity and by others as a great source of irritation. On UNH Transportation’s website, it is explained that the famed harshness of New England winters necessitates a prohibition of overnight parking.
“On a campus such as ours, snow can only be efficiently cleared at night from lots empty of cars,” the website says.
Yet, despite the many good reasons to oblige the university, the winter parking ban is consistently the most violated parking regulation enforced by UNH Transportation. This makes life interesting for Nick Prevost, a student at UNH employed by transportation, whose duties include ticketing violators of the winter parking ban.
“I typically give out 30 tickets a night,” said Prevost of the ban. “Thursday and Friday, a lot of people come up and park near the Gables.”
Lot A is the area at which most violations occur. Prevost remembers St. Patrick’s Day 2012 when he gave out around 200 tickets there before moving on to the other lots. Marc Laliberte, program manager of UNH Transportation speaking on behalf of the transportation office, attempted to explain this phenomenon.
“Despite arguably being the most heavily publicized, discussed and signed parking regulation on the books at UNH … many violators explain that they had no idea about it,” he said.
While many of the violators Laliberte spoke of are surely acting to avoid embarrassment, Prevost believes others to be genuine.
“The majority of people who get ticketed don’t go here,” he explained, “but it’s the duty of their friends to tell them where they can and cannot park.”
Mike Gaudet, a super senior at UNH, is unashamed to have been among the unlucky recipients of Prevost’s wrath. It was in 2012, after partying at the Gables, when he returned to Lot A only to find that his 2008 Scion had been towed.
His excuse: “I forgot.”
Two years in retrospect, he has seen the error in his ways. “They clearly state the rules, they email you several times,” he said. “There’s no reason to be caught with it.”
Prevost and Gaudet have since become friends, having met through their shared major of environmental science. According to Gaudet, when he learned that it was most likely Prevost who had given him the ticket, the two shared a laugh.
For Prevost, his duty is not to be taken lightly. He recalls one night which, while on the clock, he was accosted by a female student who, after receiving a ticket, asked Prevost how it felt to be the worst person on campus.
And how does it feel? Prevost describes the burden of his responsibility as being “more often than not … therapeutic. After a rough day I can be like … you get a ticket … you get a ticket … and that Mustang, I’m gonna enjoy giving you a ticket.”
But he is, as he explained, “first and foremost a student.” Prevost claimed that in several instances, when recognizing a friend’s car illegally parked, he has tried to contact that person before giving a ticket.
“But when my bosses are on, and I have to tow all the cars in the lot, there’s nothing I can do,” he said.
Prevost carries the weight of an inconvenience to the entire student body upon his shoulders, and his employment is quite often the bane of his peers. Many students agree that the parking ban is unfortunately a necessity, and to that aim the university has tried to appease. This year, they will be experimenting with relaxing the ban during the week of finals, from Dec. 14-20.
The main source of agitation for many is the steepness of the fine, which, aside from the $75, also includes the cost of towing. It will come as consolation to some that the money collected from enforcement of the ban goes toward the Wildcat Bus System. To Gaudet, the draconian ticket policy of the winter parking ban is due only to the students’ own negligence.
“They hit tons of cars every night, and that’s why it has to be so steep,” he said, “because you don’t listen.”