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Column: Students face parking woes at Kingston Emporium

By Jeff Sullivan
On March 6, 2009

03/06/09 - If you haven't been to the Kingston Emporium lately, you should know it's a great place for taking risks. Go no further than the humungous potholes in the parking lots that make it seem like you're off-roading on-safari. If you feel like gambling, revel in the thrill of finding out whether or not your car is in the holding area at J & D's towing because someone who looked like you came out of the same shop and went back to class.

Corey Brown, a sophomore computer science major at URI knows about this first hand. He said the Emporium's private parking services unfairly towed his car when he went to get his girlfriend from her class. He said he parked his car on the side of Bagelz and left to get his girlfriend at Washburn. They were planning on going to Quiznos for lunch, and came back to find that his car was gone.

Brown was charged $112.50 dollars for the infringement, and said he believes it to be unfair.

Since the area is privately owned by Marley Properties LLC, the University of Rhode Island Parking Services is not responsible for monitoring the area; they do not tow parking offenders. Marley Properties has hired its own "parking services" for Emporium businesses that sit in the plaza and watch students to make sure they are paying customers, and not parking for classes.

"We are contractually bound to provide parking for the exclusive rights of customers and not of students," Derek Marley, owner of the property, said. "We are towing at the specific request [of our tenants], and our parking services monitor the lot very closely."

Marley said he could not comment further on the issue.

As a privately owned area, Marley Properties is also responsible for the upkeep of the parking lot, and yet the lot is fraught with those infamous potholes.

It begs the question then, where's all this revenue being generated by the contractually provided parking actually going?

Since fines collected from URI's Parking Services go to the state, where does Brown's $112.50 go?

Brown said he had no idea what company towed him or why, since there was no sign in the area in which he parked. He said he could not have been gone for more than 10 minutes, and there was also another student parked right next to him who had just been towed.

He went to the South Kingstown Police Department to voice a complaint.

"[The Officer] told me, 'take a number,'" he said. "She said there were many other students coming in with the exact same complaint, and there's nothing they can do about it.

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