CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) – In September of 2012, the City Council of Chattanooga voted to ban non-residents from parking in Fort Wood. And by non-residents, they mean UTC students. The ordinance applies to the 800 and 900 blocks of Oak Street, Vine Street and Fort Wood Street, as well as the 500 block of Fort Wood Historic District.
This is a problem for UTC students because before the decision to ban parking, students had a one-hour grace period for parking during school hours. Students would often park in Fort Wood for one class, and sometimes for longer risking a ticket, since the neighborhood is conveniently right next to campus.
The decision was made because Fort Wood residents were having problems finding a place to park near their homes. The streets would be full of student cars, often leaving nowhere to park for homeowners and businesses. Most houses and apartments do not have parking lots or driveways to accommodate residents, so that only leaves street parking.
Emma Tinius, a junior at UTC and Oak Street resident, says she is ecstatic about the new decision. Tinius said, “I am paying $25 for a Fort Wood parking pass, but could never find a spot. I don’t have a driveway so I literally had nowhere to park. It was so frustrating because it was a daily struggle. You have no idea how happy I am about the new rule.”
When asked if Tinius had problems with tickets when friends came to visit, she did admit that it was a risk her friends had to take. “People don’t come over that often,” she said.
Another Oak Street resident, UTC senior Julia Schlicher, said her visitors had to park in her small backyard or driveway. “Parking was an issue for me as well. When friends came over, they would have to basically park in my yard, which looks kind of trashy for the Fort Wood area.”
A Vine Street resident and non-student, Robert Stanley, is relieved that the new ban was passed. Stanley lives next door to the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, and the 60 fraternity members would park on the street for their weekly meeting. Although their meetings are only weekly, some members still park on the street just because their house was so close to campus, which sometimes left Stanley with few places to park.
Naturally, many commuter students are very unhappy with the new rule. With the current parking shortage and record amount of 12,100 students, the Fort Wood parking ban is yet another tragedy for commuter students.
UTC sophomore, Brian Bledsoe, said that the ban was a huge inconvenience for commuter students. And since the ban has taken effect, the streets have excess parking, which only frustrates students more since they are not allowed to park there. Bledsoe said,”I honestly believe that there are more students that park there than there are residents who live in Fort Wood, so I think we deserved a say in the matter. I understand why the people living there are upset, but we as students with basically no parking have the right to be mad, too. We could park there for 15 minutes and get an $11 ticket, which multiplies to like $40 after a certain amount of days. It’s ridiculous.”
Students who are upset about the Fort Wood parking ban are demanding that the university do something to alleviate the problem, since the ban now eliminates yet another area to park. One option that UTC junior, Keri McKay, suggests is that freshmen should not be allowed to have cars on campus. “I know some other universities don’t allow freshmen to have cars and I mean just think about it, freshmen are one-fourth of the students at UTC. That would help all the other students out so much. Freshmen can deal with no car for one year,” said McKay.
To obtain a Fort Wood parking pass, you must be a resident of Fort Wood and apply for a permit. The lease determines how many permits will be allowed per residence. Permits are $25 and renewable yearly.
UTC authorities have suggested that students park at meters or purchase a general parking pass because there is ample parking at the Engel Stadium general parking lot. For more information on shuttle routes, see where you can go on the Mocs Express Campus Shuttle.