Townhouse residents were formally informed that they are no longer allowed to use the area between townhouses as a loading dock. This move came partly as a result of a student receiving a Village ticket from University Police.
After this incident, Student Life sent out an email informing everyone living at the townhouses that they were not allowed to drive on the area in between the townhouses as it is considered a sidewalk and cars would represent a safety hazard.
Some students, like biochemistry major junior John Lepore, felt that the email conflicted with other advisement from the college.
“I was curious in the beginning of the semester if we can actually drive through there. So I asked one of the townhouse community organizers if we were allowed to drive through there,” Lepore said. “And she was like, ‘yeah, you’re allowed to drive through there, just pull off to the side.’”
Students, such as political science major junior Michael Badalamenti, are especially confused because of the lack of significant signage indicating this.
“There’s no signage indicating [not to] drive through here. There is a No Standing Sign at one of the ends,” Badalamenti said.
“All it says is ‘no standing anytime’ and the way it’s positioned, it doesn’t really indicate necessarily that it’s saying for this area and indication does seem to be more on the side that we are allowed to drive here.”
Badalamenti went on to say that while there are polls with chains to block off cars when needed, it’s never been used.
There is some disagreement as students feel this is unclear, while those in administrative positions describe the signage differently.
“We just talked about updating the signage over there,” Parking and Transportation Administrator Kelsey Costello said.
“On the South Side there is a sign that says no motor vehicles, which is pretty clear no motor vehicles are allowed to be up there.”
The change in policy is because the area is legally considered a sidewalk, and the townhouse coordinators were informed of this recently, according to Costello.
“Part of that is technically that space between the townhouses is considered a sidewalk and it’s illegal based on New York State traffic laws to drive on the sidewalks, and so we decided to be consistent with New York State law and also, SUNY Geneseo parking policy,” Coordinator of Student Life for Housing Operations Taylor Gale said.
“I’ve been here for three years, so the first two years move in weekends we had a lot of students drive up close to their townhouse to unload. We moved away from that last year, we felt it was getting a little unsafe with people trying to pass back and forth. So a lot of that had to do with pedestrian safety and so that is our main concern,” Gale said.
Students find this fact inconvenient as the loading zone and parking lots are far from the majority of townhouses, resulting in them in carrying things like groceries a much greater distance. This is especially true for students on the opposite side of the loading zones.
“It is a bit of a far walk from the parking lot up here is the main thing,” Badalamenti said. “Especially, you know, since most of the people in the houses will make their own food and everything so they have to go out shopping for groceries and bring everything back.”
Students’ frustration also comes from Geneseo vehicles still having access to the area, despite its apparent safety issues. According to Costello, this is so these vehicles can pick up trash which is in the middle of the area, far from either end of the townhouses.
Parking and Transportation is also looking into smaller service vehicles to enhance safety around campus, according to Costello.
As for solutions, students would like to see the policy returned to its previous state, or maybe even the area classified as a road, not a sidewalk.
“I don’t think there were any issues that were caused by people driving up here ... everyone was pretty mindful of there being other people,” Badalamenti said. “I still think they could pursue maybe getting it rebranded as a street rather than a sidewalk.”
This seems unlikely, as it would require an extensive amount of maintenance to accomplish this, costing the school time and money, according to Cosetllo.
“Everything would have to be torn up and it would have to be repaved and additionally because of how close all the doors are,” Costello said. “I don’t think it would be safe to have people driving down there.”