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VICENZA, Italy — Longtime residents might be able to remember a time when parking wasn’t an issue at Caserma Ederle. But that certainly hasn’t been the case this century.

David Murr, director of public works on base, summed up the issue during a monthly Info-X meeting Wednesday, calling parking — or a lack of it — "one of the favorite subjects here on the caserma."

The issue doesn’t seem as pressing when members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team are deployed. But with everyone back on base, there aren’t enough parking spaces to go around during peak hours. Statistics show about 7,000 vehicles registered on base and roughly 2,800 parking spaces.

There’s hope on the horizon, with plans to transfer elements of the 173rd to the Dal Molin airfield. But construction on facilities hasn’t started there and isn’t expected to be completed until 2012. An ambitious plan to add several multistory parking garages and transform much of the base into a pedestrian zone still needs funding and various approvals. And it wouldn’t happen for at least a decade anyway.

Murr said four different sets of regulations — Army, U.S. Army Europe, Installation Management Command, and Southern European Task Force — address parking issues, making it somewhat difficult to navigate.

But a focus group has done just that, and suggested several changes to free up spots. It recommends reducing the number of reserved spaces from 149 to 106. Those totals include spaces designated for high-ranking servicemembers and civilians, as well as the handicapped.

It also suggests setting aside more 15-minute parking spaces near the U.S. Post Office and designating much of the lots around the post exchange, commissary and shoppette as two-hour parking.

"It will prevent all-day parking by personnel," Murr said.

Col. Erik Daiga, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Vicenza, said there are still issues being worked out over enforcement. He assured those attending the InfoX — Vicenza’s version of a town hall meeting — that there would be plenty of warning before such measures took effect.

Still, Murr said the best solution might be to direct vehicles to lighter-used lots elsewhere on the 147-acre base and encourage "the culture of walking."

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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