Mount Nittany Road will become the subject of a trial parking program in the spring in an attempt to alleviate excessive parking plaguing residents.
The trial, which will run from March through November 2015, was unanimously approved Thursday by the College Township Council, and will open a township-owned storage area for parking on weekends.
Mount Nittany Road was identified by the council as a problem area for parking. During warmer months, visitors will park along the side of the road leading to the Mount Nittany Concervancy, a popular hiking destination. Residents have come forward in the past expressing their concern with the number of cars leading up to the trailhead.
“The shale pit was a staff suggestion,” township engineer Kent Baker said. “The township uses it for materials, but on the weekends we don’t need it. On weekends, we could use it to alleviate parking for the hikers.”
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The parking trial will open a lot along West Mount Nittany Road known in the township as the shale pit, according to Baker. Signage will also be placed at the entrance to the lot indicating use will only be allowed from Friday through Sunday dawn to dusk.
Additional signage will be placed along West Mount Nittany prohibiting parking along the road, he said. Signs within the lot will indicate how far parking will be allowed.
The cost to purchase and install the signage with the township’s road crew would be about $700, Baker said.
The area would be patrolled by police as part of their normal patrol, township Manager Adam Brumbaugh said. With the opening of the lot, the township can make it a priority, meaning more frequent patrols. He also verified the patrols would not affect the township’s police budget.
Township resident Ruth Houtz-Bressler said opening the lot to parking is “just asking for trouble,” saying putting cars in the lot is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue.
“Shoving (parking) on someone else isn’t going to work,” she said, saying how trash is an issue for the amount of hikers who come up the road already.
Resident Sue Smith said adding a fine or the threat of towing should be part of the trial as well, saying students wouldn’t necessarily be swayed by the suggestion of a sign.
Councilwoman Carla Stilson said she would like to see additional parking added to the village of Lemont, creating an experience of walking through the village then the mountain rather than having them be two separate sites.
Council also briefly addressed the possibility of prohibiting parking along some of Mount Nittany Road, but a move like that would require a separate ordinance, Brumbaugh said.
Resident Amanda Kunkle said she would like to see some parking restrictions along the bend where Mount Nittany Road meets West Mount Nittany Road, but agreed the trial was a good idea.
“I’m willing to try multiple solutions,” she said. “I like doing it on a trial basis, but if it’s bad for the neighbors, then stop.”