Many students faced fines upward of $300 to retrieve their cars Oct. 19 when the city of Scranton towed more than 30 cars parked on Vine Street.
Early that morning, residential students of The University received an email from Police Chief Donald Bergmann stating the following:
“Vine Street was posted on Monday as “NO PARKING” by the City of Scranton for paving. The paving will continue through Tuesday, October 25, 2016. Students who have vehicles parked in a posted NO PARKING zone are being asked to move their vehicles immediately. The City of Scranton will be towing any vehicles at the owner’s expense,” the email said.
Bergmann said that the one responsible for the towings was not The University, but actually the city of Scranton.
“The city posted ‘no parking’ signs on Monday and according to local ordinance, vehicles have to be moved. After 24 hours, they are subject to being towed. The paving started on Tuesday but more down toward Lackawanna College. Wednesday morning, the city (of Scranton) called and said there were a number of cars that had not been moved and that they would begin towing,” Bergmann said.
Scranton police began towing at 8 a.m. while students were unaware that their cars were being relocated until almost two hours later. Bergman said when he came to work he had heard numerous plates being called in over the radio and instantly thought of how many cars were about to be moved.
“… I immediately assumed that there were a lot of cars that potentially would have been towed. University police went up and tried to assist and started to run plates. Sometimes, if someone has a permit or had a parking ticket in the past, their name would be in the system, and we were able to get a hold of some students, and some were able to come up and move their car before it was towed,” Bergmann said.
In total, there were 27 cars on Vine Street when towing began. Some were able to get to their cars before the tow truck got their, but others were not as lucky. Some students, like Jenna Bruchalski, suffered the complications that came with trying to go get a car from a lot that was miles away with no way of getting there.
“I got an email around 10 a.m. saying that my car was about to be towed, since I was parked on Vine. I got my keys, ran up there, and my car was already gone. They were definitely paving the roads, so my car must have been gone for a while already,” Bruchalski said.
“I called the place that towed my car, and was told that it would be $375 cash to get my car out of the lot. It was not a good situation.”
Many, including Bergmann and Bruchalski, were shocked at the cost of reclaiming a car that was towed. Bergmann believes that the prices are very excessive and that no one can afford to spend that much money to get their car back. To show how high these prices are, if a student were to be towed out of a University parking lot, the student would only have to pay about $120.
A big issue is that off campus students became aware of the roadwork in September, and were again notified on Monday before the construction began. Some argue that it is completely unfair and illogical that residential students were not informed, as residential students also regularly park on the streets of Scranton.
According to Bergmann, The University was not aware of the large group of residential students that park off campus.
“I think initially, The University thought most students parked off campus are off-campus students. I think that they thought that residential students that were eligible for a parking permit did park on campus,” Bergmann said.
A lot of students say that it is very inconvenient that the residential student parking lots are located far away from most of the buildings. The main argument is that one is not going to park in the Ridge Row lot, then make the trip all the way back to the other side of campus to where they live.
“I was parked on Vine because when I went to go park my car on sunday night there were absolutely no parking spots near my building. The closest lot would have been behind montrone, but it was completely full. I drove around for about 15 minutes looking to see if anyone was leaving, but no one did,” Bruchalski said.
What is to come? The University has been speaking with the city of Scranton to try and avoid this situation ever happening again. In regards to University Police, they will also be trying their best to inform students as soon as they have information.
Bergmann said that they will be trying to send the message out on Royal News, as well as sending out mass emails to both undergraduate and graduate students as soon as they receive information. All in all, Bergmann believes that this is a learning experience for both the students and The University.
“I think after this the ultimate outcome will be positive. I think The University will now include us when they know that streets are going to be paved and allow university police to get the information out as soon as possible,” Bergmann said.