Parking issues continue to tangle roads and rankle residents in the neighborhood surrounding Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale campus.
Students heading into the school often park in surrounding streets to avoid the college’s parking fees. As a result, the county keeps expanding parking restrictions in the area around the campus.
Residents on Chapel Drive staked a claim for their street at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, making that road the latest addition to the resident-only parking district around the community college.
“Every three or four months, we end up back here with another addendum to this permit parking district,” said Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock). “And I encourage all the residents in the area around the college to consider this option.”
To be included in the parking district, roads must be within 2,000 feet walking distance of a pedestrian entrance to the college or 1,000 feet from property boundaries. Chapel Drive runs directly up to an entrance to the parking lot of NOVA’s campus.
Streets leading off Wakefield Chapel Road, the main route into the school from Little River Turnpike, make up the largest part of the Northern Virginia Community College residential permit parking district. As the name would suggest, cars parked on the roads in that zone must have permits.
The county will put signs in place on Chapel Drive to alert potential rulebreakers, who would face a $75 fine for a parking violation.
“All the streets surrounding us have restrictions, so we are the main thoroughfare and the main parking lot for students,” said Clyde Hutchison, a resident of Chapel Drive. “This parking situation has caused a severe safety issue.”
Another resident of the street, Eugene Lee, expressed worry over his children’s safety with so many cars coming through. He also noted the increased risk of accidents.
“Chapel Drive is a narrow street,” said Eugene Lee, another resident of the street. “When you have cars parked on both sides, drivers face a gauntlet.”
While NOVA’s neighbors seek respite from students and their cars, the students are looking for their own relief. Students park on neighborhood roads to avoid paying for a parking permit for the school lots.
The permits run $105 per semester, or $95 if purchased online. Campus visitors can also use the onsite parking deck for fees of $2 per hour or $12 per day.
NOVA does not want to eliminate parking fees, as it depends on that revenue. However, the college is exploring alternatives to the current system. A task force on the parking issue presented recommendations to NOVA’s College Board on March 10.
The suggested changes included reducing the parking permit fee, allowing students to park for free on evenings and weekends and reimbursing part of the parking fees for students who graduate within a set timeframe. The task force also recommended offsetting some of the lost revenue with a per-credit-hour infrastructure fee.
These recommendations will be submitted to the State Board for Community Colleges for approval in May, and if accepted would take effect in the fall semester.