Snow my god: Winter parking woes

Every week, Colby Director of Security Bob Williams writes about a security issue that may affect the student population.

As I am writing this, there is a winter storm slamming central Maine. The storm didn’t come by surprise. It actually started last Tuesday (seven days ago) and marched across the United States dumping up to a foot of snow in some states. It is just now arriving in Waterville. In what has become a tradition with winter storms, local schools have been cancelled, state government offices have been closed and people have forgotten most everything they know or read about parking at Colby. 

As I came through the door at 7:30 this morning I wasn’t met with “good morning”, as usually is the case. I was greeted with, can we tow vehicles!  Many of you are thinking, “yeah, and you love towing cars.” Well not so fast. It’s snowing out. Nobody loves or even likes climbing out of a warm car to trudge through the snow while sleet is pelting off your face. You have to clean the snow off the back window to look for a parking permit and a couple of other steps I could whine about but won’t. All out in the cold and snow. Nothing to like there. 

We hear this a lot, you have to contact me before you can tow my car.  Nope – not accurate at all. We try to give a courteously call but that isn’t always possible. Sometimes there is not time to notify people and often the phone number we have is a parent’s number or more likely the case, the call goes unanswered.         

The reason for towing vehicles during storms is so Facilities can plow the roads and sidewalks. Oh yeah, sidewalks. Apparently at least one student thought that the sidewalk was for parking. I checked the rules, it’s not!  Never has been. 

We’re lucky at Colby that the team from Facilities is good at what they do.  Plowing snow is no treat. It might look like fun, especially if you are in a wide open space but there are not many wide open spaces a Colby. The roads are narrow, the parking lots are full and cars usually aren’t parked in perfect order. Imagine driving in the snow with poor visibility and trying to fit an eight foot wide snow blade down any of the parking aisles. There is just about three inches of clearance on each side. It’s sort of like cramming your feet into your sneakers with 2 pairs of wool socks on. You can do it, but they’re a little tight. I find it amazing they don’t hit several vehicles a storm. But they don’t. Why?  Because they are professionals!

That is why when they call and say a vehicle needs to be moved, it needs to be moved. If they can’t get by it or around it, there are two options: tow it or go through it. Okay, the second option isn’t really an option but I am sure it crosses their mind several times a storm. 

The winter parking rules were sent out by email and posted on ColbyNow over a month ago. Last week they were posted again and SGA sent out an email reminding everyone of the winter parking rules. We are all working together to avoid issues with parking this winter. The reason for the second round of notifications was because several weeks after the notice went out, there were still 30 vehicles parked on the dirt portion of Mary Low. The reason you can’t park on the dirt portion of Mary Low or along the edges of the parking lots is because that is where Facilities pushes the snow.  The further back they can push the snow, especially at the beginning of the season, the fewer parking spaces we lose due to snow encroachment. We can’t afford to lose anymore spaces. 

You know those big round cement blocks that have a sign in them that designates who can park in what area. They define the start and end of the parking spaces.  You need to park in the spaces between them. Trying to squeeze an extra space on the outside of the block where there are no lines is bad news. I bring this up because we hear regularly that the lines were covered with snow. If you park outside the cement blocks there aren’t any lines to start out with. 

“I’m late for class or there were no spaces in student parking” is not a valid reason to park anywhere you want. If there are not spaces to park in the student lots, you need to park in the lower athletic lot. I know it sucks but that is what we have. 

So far this morning, we are 7-0. There have been seven cars that needed to be moved and through the hard work of our administrative assistance and dispatcher we were able to contact all of them. 

Don’t forget when it snows, the parking lots are cleared the first weekend after a storm.  A notice will be sent by email and posted on ColbyNow. The complete process can be found at https://www.colby.edu/securitydept/parking-information/winter-parking/ .  For students living downtown, watch for the big sign entering the Concourse. They will post on it when they are clearing the lots.  No breaks down there. They just tow.       

If you need to borrow a shovel or snow brush stop by the Security Office.  We’ll hold on to your Colby Card while you use them. 

If you need an ice scraper for your vehicle, stop by, say hi, and pick one up.