Students unhappy with paid parking pilot program near Western Technical College

Students unhappy with paid parking pilot program near Western Technical College

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - College students in La Crosse are speaking out against a new paid parking program in the city, which is testing out paid on-street parking to try to make streets less crowded in busy areas. 

The city's pilot program charges people $1 for every hour their car is parked in designated areas. However, Western Technical College student body president Cooper Richason said students are choosing to park further off campus, moving the congestion further into the city. 

"I've been getting copied on a lot of angry emails from students who don't know about the parking or say the signs are confusing," Richason said. 

He said students are choosing to park in city neighborhoods. 

"Their objective was to help the community," Richason said. "I don't think it's doing that. It's making the problem worse." 

Because most college students are gone for the summer, Council member Jessica Olson said it's too early to tell if the program will be a real issue. 

"We have probably well less than 20 percent of the student body here," Olson said. "Now is not the time to analyze the situation."

She said parking is an issue that angers a lot of people. 

"When the city tried to do a permit system citywide a few years ago, the backlash was enormous," Olson said.

Western still offers summer courses. Richason said neighboring streets usually have more cars than usual. 

"Some students have even stopped coming to campus altogether," Richason said. "There's been a drop in attendance since the parking program began." 

With the number of dollars students already spend on tuition, Olson is not sure this is the best option for La Crosse. 

"To try to squeeze a little more money out of them, I am not sure the city is on the right track," Olson said. 

When September rolls around, she said it will be up to students to make their voice known so change can happen. 

"If they don't go further than just posting on social media, nothing is going to happen," Olson said. They do have to use channels of local government to speak their voice." 

More than 90 percent of students commute to Western Technical College which does offer a summer parking pass for $10.

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