Driven debate

Public invited to offer input on Shepherdstown’s parking woes

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Residents, business owners, shoppers, Shepherd University students and others interested in the chronic parking shortage here can speak out this week.

A series of four public hearings will be held to get input on the future of Shepherd’s campus. The sessions happen this afternoon, tonight and Thursday in the auditorium of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.

The lack of parking in Shepherdstown will be one of the topics atforums today on the campus of Shepherd University.

The lack of parking in Shepherdstown will be one of the topics at
forums today on the campus of Shepherd University.

Comments registered during the public hearings will help the university as it updates its 10-year facilities master plan, due to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission by June 30.

Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer said he expects to hear discussion of the shortage of parking spaces in town as well as a possible solution: construction of a parking garage.

“We can’t make more ground, so there are no more parking spaces in town,” said Auxer, who remembers parking was a challenge back when he was a Shepherd student in the late 1960s. “[More] town parking will come from moving the students from parking in town to the parking garage.

Auxer said the school would come up with the millions needed to build the parking garage, with no funding coming from the town.

But Shelli Dronsfield, assistant to Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley, said Monday that talk of a parking garage isn’t likely to be a top agenda item during this week’s meetings, in part because funding for such a building hasn’t been identified.

Auxer said he believes money for the project could come from fundraisers and the state. “I haven’t heard anyone say, ‘Well, that parking garage is a bad idea.’”

John Sherwood, former chairman of the Shepherd’s Board of Governors, is heading the school’s facility master plan team. Members include faculty, students, staff members and community representatives.

An architectural firm also is contributing advice on how to update the school’s master plan.

Anyone interested may attend this week’s sessions, which are scheduled for 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. and from 2:15 to 3:45 p.m. this afternoon, from 6 to 8 tonight and from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday.

There is no requirement for those who attend to stay for the entire session. Shepherd officials say attendees may come and go as their schedules permit.

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