By Brandon BieltzMarch 29, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- With parking spaces becoming scarce at some Fort Meade services, including Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center and Gaffney Fitness Center, garrison officials are looking into options that will help alleviate the parking shortage.
"The installation is aware that parking is an issue, and we're working towards solving the problem the best that we can, efficiently in a timely manner," said Fort Meade Police Lt. George Manning, traffic supervisor for the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Some are attributing the parking issues to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, which brought nearly 5,700 employees to Fort Meade.
However, Fort Meade Transformation director Bert Rice said the installation planned for the influx of employees relocating to the area.
"We think we pretty well accommodated for BRAC agencies," he said.
When the new BRAC facilities were built, agencies were told that there would not be a parking space for every relocated employee.
To ensure enough spaces for those who work at the new facilities, agencies have found alternative methods of transportation such as carpooling and shuttle services. Some agencies -- and now garrison staff -- have also started to allow teleworking.
These strategies, Rice said, have assisted garrison officials in preventing the parking problem from becoming worse.
"If you have fewer people and vehicles, you don't need as many parking spaces," he said.
One effect BRAC has had on parking is the amount of customers at such services as Kimbrough and Gaffney, said Manning.
Garrison officials are actively searching for solutions to solve those issues.
In addition, they are preparing to mitigate anticipated parking shortages in the summer when the Post Exchange parking lot will be blocked off for up to two years during the construction of a new Exchange facility. (See the March 22 Soundoff! article at http://go.usa.gov/Es7 )
Manning said the parking shortage is likely to get worse before it gets better with more construction ahead. But Rice is working through possible solutions, with Kimbrough as a primary project.
"We're working with Kimbrough to alleviate the severe parking issues they have over there," Rice said. "We're trying real hard."
Rice discussed several options including shuttling Kimbrough employees from satellite parking lots to the facility. Ideally, additional parking for Kimbrough will be within walking distance to the facility.
Officials are also considering vacant and underused parking lots that can be utilized as additional options, but they must "make sense for the installation," Rice said.
While the garrison works to resolve current parking problems, Rice said it also needs to look ahead to see how further installation growth may affect future parking.
"We have to be smart enough to know what's going to happen in the future," he said.
Lack of ample parking is not an excuse for parking in illegal locations, such as on the side of Llewellyn Aveune or designated No Parking areas, Manning said.
Fort Meade Police will issue tickets of $85 for illegally parked vehicles when the vehicles cause safety issues such as parking in front of fire hydrants, in access aisles that emergency vehicles use or when a vehicle is parked too far onto the road.
The location of No Parking signs are dictated by Maryland state laws and Army regulations, which stipulate where vehicles can or cannot park based on proximity to features such as intersections, crosswalks or stop signs.
"If we have a sign put up for no parking, it's referencing something; there's a method to it," Manning said.