For most of the school year, Clinton residents near Bluff Boulevard have seen their streets clogged with cars from Ashford University students parking along Fourth, Fifth and Sixth avenues north.
Now, city and Ashford officials are trying to come up with a plan to appease the number of complaints they’ve received from residents on those streets.
Ashford offers free parking spaces on campus, including 100 spaces in a lot next to Springdale Cemetery.
It also offers 400 spaces at the school’s new athletic facility off of South 14th Street, as well as spaces at the former Best Western Frontier Inn, which the school purchased as a residence hall late last year. Students can then be bused from those places to the main campus.
But many students still find it more convenient to park along residential streets.
“They are a lot like water when it comes to this,” University Vice President John Ballheim said. “They will find the path of least resistance ... and I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. It’s just a City Council members on the Rules and Regulation committee have debated for months about possible solutions, including offering on-street permits to residents, similar to some Chicago suburbs.
Councilman Mark Vulich, at-large, said he was not eager to establish a permit system if it would cost residents money.
“I have a problem with charging residents to park where they’ve always parked because of too many college kids,” he said.
The committee also debated parking bans at specific, peak hours. But with students coming and going at various times of the day, they had trouble specifying what time that would be.
Furthermore, Ashford officials have met with the city to come up with other solutions, including building more parking along Springdale Drive.
Ballheim says the school has tried to give incentives to those riding the bus, offering tokens that can be redeemed for a weekly drawing. They have also decided to lock the doors closest to Bluff Boulevard in hopes of offering another bit of resistance for students parked nearby.
Some city officials think the problem could go away by next fall, especially if another lot is built near campus. But Fourth Ward Councilman Paul Gassman said he did not buy the possibility.
“I don’t care how much parking space they have. They are still going to be parking cars there,” he said.
The committee said it would not move forward on any proposal without input from residents along those streets.