Post Author: dollinca
Picture of X-lot on campus shows the bumper to bumper overcrowded parking lot reserved for commuters. The Breeze, September 10, 1976, page 1. Photo by Walt Morgan.
1976 served to be a period of agitation between the city and the school. Earlier in the year, Harrisonburg residents were victorious in routing TKE from its beloved historic house on Main Street. By September, the school continued to grow, reaching an enrollment of 7,700 students. Thus many students posed a problem for the community, as Suzanne Myers described the city as always viewing the college’s expansion as “offensive.”(Myers) During 1976 the first zoning changes were enacted in the case of the TKE house, setting the precedent for the coming years. However the debate over the TKE house was a solitary conflict that affected only the zone in which the former fraternity house stood. With the exponential growth in commuter students, which reached 2,500 during the fall 1976 semester, larger and broader problems were faced by the students and residents alike.
As more students moved into housing off campus, their cars went with them. Commuters were granted a lot on campus called X-lot, however this lot offered inadequate space.(Perils) With a bus system that only served those students living in apartments such as Showalter and Holly Court, as well as the lack of the parking garages that exist today, many commuters were forced to park in neighborhoods as close to campus as possible in order to get to class. Thus South Mason Street, Cantrell Avenue, Gratten Street, and others were packed with cars on either side of the road. Neighborhood residents lobbied the city council to take measures to alleviate the growing problem. Thus the city council voted to enact stricter parking regulations for the neighborhoods around campus. Starting during the fall semester of 1976, neighborhood residents were forced to purchase a permit for their cars for $1.00. Any vehicle parked in a permit zone without a permit was to be ticketed $5.00.(Perils) Furthermore, any vehicle parked illegally for three days or more is subject to towing.(Yancey)
When surveyed, neighborhood residents were almost unanimously in favor of the parking restrictions. The sole objecting resident did so simply because she did not like having to pay to park in front of her own house. A resident of Grattan Street stated “this town just isn’t big enough for a university.” Hostility was growing within the community towards the expanding school. However many residents placed the blame not on the students, but on the administration. Another Grattan Street resident placed the blame on Carrier, stating that these were the problems that were inevitable with expansion. According to her, “students should have the right to park on campus free.” However it is not President Carrier on the forefront of the parking battle, it is the student trying to get to class.
Myers, Susanne, “Class Lecture,” History 337 Local History, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
“Parking: The Perils of Pauline,” The Breeze. September 10, 1976, page 2
Yancey, Dwayne, “City Limits Off-Campus Parking,” The Breeze. September 3, 1976. page 5
Yancey, Dwayne, “City Residents Favor Parking Ban,” The Breeze. September 14, 1976. page 1