At the most recent city council meeting held in Orange City a traffic ordinance was passed that will limit student parking in the city’s residential areas adjacent to Northwestern’s student housing.
The traffic ordinance is in response to complaints the college and city council have received from residents of Orange City about the surplus of cars parked on the sides of the street.
According to Mayor Les Douma, the ordinance is in response to years of frustration by the homeowners in and around the areas close to campus.
This build-up of frustration has heightened this year as the construction of the Learning Commons restricts the amount of parking lots and spaces for students on campus.
“We lost the gravel parking lot next to the Franken Center, the parking down Central Avenue toward Christ’s Chapel and all the parking over where Heemstra used to be,” said dean of students John Brogan.
The city council and police department have worked together to come up with a solution that will respect college students, assist homeowners and clear streets for authorized emergency vehicles.
The ordinance will mainly limit overnight parking in the vicinity of residential areas; however, a few no-parking zones will be put into effect to eliminate parking on both sides of the street. The restrictions will be applied during the nine-month period of
Aug. 15 to May 15.
“We don’t have much of a say because these are city streets,” Brogan said. “We did go to the city because we were getting so many complaints from people in the community right around the Bolks apartments; however, we have to leave it in the city’s hands. All we can do is offer suggestions.”
According to Douma, he understands this will affect students at NW and that fewer parking places might cause frustration.
“I don’t blame students. They want to park closest to their dorms,” Douma said.
Brogan said he also understands the concerns of students having to park farther away.
“Whenever we go to the grocery store or mall, what do we do for five minutes?” Brogan said. “We spend time looking for the closest spots. It is the same with students on campus. They want to park closest to their home.”
Brogan said he sees convenient parking as a privilege for students in a small town.
“At Duke University, I was ecstatic if I could find a parking spot a half a mile away from my residence,” Brogan said.
NW students and staff members will be further informed once the ordinance is finalized by the members of the city council and police department. Douma does not intend for students to be penalized immediately after signs are posted in the residential area. Instead, he would like people at the college to be well informed of the new system and have time to adjust to the ordinance.
Brogan is hopeful that by next fall, with the construction of the Learning Commons complete, additional parking lots and spaces will be available.
Until then, students are encouraged to park in the lots offered at NW and to become accustomed to the restrictions of this upcoming ordinance.