In her 50 years living on Belmont Street, Bobbi Tucker has never had an issue with Bowdoin students. But this fall, when more students began parking on her street, it became difficult to back out of her driveway and she had to swerve more frequently around parked cars so as to avoid hitting pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Our street is very narrow,” Tucker said at Monday night’s meeting of the Brunswick Town Council. “We think about and worry about the college students that live up in the Mayflower Apartments [on Belmont Street] and their safety.”
After public comments and a 20-minute discussion about parking restrictions, bans and permits, the Town Council unanimously passed a parking ordinance that changed parking restrictions on Belmont Street, Columbia Avenue, Longfellow Avenue, Noble Street, Pine Street, Union Street and Landing Drive.
The changes take effect on December 18. On Belmont Street, there will be a two-hour parking limit from the corner of Maine Street to Spring Street. On Longfellow Avenue, there will be no parking within 60 feet of the intersection with Coffin Street. On Pine Street, there will be no parking be Bath Road and Bowker Street. On Columbia Avenue, there will be no parking from the corner of Maine Street to Oakland Street. There will be no parking on Landing Drive. On Union Street, there will be no Parking on the west side from Weymouth Street to one hundred ten feet south of Cedar Street.
Tucker and other residents suspect that more students are parking off campus this year, specifically on Belmont Street, because of the new Park Row Apartments. Before the new ordinance was adopted, Belmont Street was one of the closest town streets where students could legally park all day long.
Julie Coticchia ’20 lives in the Park Row Apartments and parks almost every day on Belmont Street.
“Chamberlain Hall, Coles Tower and Park Row are all within a thousand feet of each other and they’re all entirely upperclassmen, but there’s not any student parking nearby,” she said.
Coticchia understands the town’s concerns and will move her car when the ordinance goes into effect in 30 days, but she wishes there were more student parking spots closer to campus. Most lots on the main campus are designated for faculty, staff and visitors. Students with parking decals cannot park in these spaces Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..
The College plans to demolish Pine Street Apartments in the future, and their space will likely become student parking, said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer of the College Matt Orlando. But it is unlikely that the College will build student lots closer to the center of campus.
“By design, we don’t provide student parking in tight to the core of campus because of employees, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Randy Nichols, executive director of the Office of Safety and Security. “The College has a business to run. And we have the operations of the College that need to run smoothly. We have employees that have to come in and out and, on any given day, dozens or even hundreds of visitors come to campus.”
There are 713 designated student spots on campus and 503 student-registered vehicles this semester. Most of the student spots are in the Farley/Watson lot. Nichols hopes to work with the neighbors and try to move parking back onto campus whenever possible.
Leah Kratochvil ’20, who lives in Brunswick Apartments and frequently parks on Belmont Street, said she parks off campus because it’s closer and she doesn’t feel safe at night walking home from Farley.
“Especially now, it’s dark and icy and I don’t like to walk back alone,” she said.
Nichols noted there are options for students who do not want to walk at night, like the Bowdoin Shuttle, and if the shuttle is not running, Safety and Security will provide an escort back to campus. But Kratochvil said she feels like the service isn’t actively encouraged. Additionally, security recently reduced the hours the shuttle operates due to lack of demand.
Although parking off campus is now more restricted, little is changing on campus besides the potential of more student parking near Pine Street.
“I’d like to see half the number of student vehicles on this campus. And I’d like to see students just think of other ways to meet their transportation needs short of bringing the car to campus,” said Nichols. “Who wants a campus where the main landscaping feature is acres of parking lots?”
Editor’s Note, 11/23/2019, 1 p.m.: This article has been updated to include a description of the new parking restrictions.