Parking, convenience create commuter controversy

Many commuting faculty, staff and students play the parking game when arriving on campus.

The destruction of the parking garage eliminated 344 parking spaces and the new parking lot, located east of the Student Center, provides 236 spaces, said Phil Gatton, director of Plant and Service Operations.

Gatton said the university tried to alleviate the current 27-space deficit by expanding to a total of 81 spaces in lots 10A and 10B, located east of the demolished parking garage. The plans for the new Student Services building, which will replace the garage, also incorporate more spaces, he said.

The parking situation near the campus main entrance limits parking availability for a number of buildings used by students, faculty and staff commuters.

People going to the buildings near the entrance which benefited from the garage, such as the Student Center, Faner Hall and Neckers Building, will experience difficulty with parking availability, said Kylie Brewer, office support specialist for the College of Science Dean’s Office.

“The frustrating part is when you can’t find a spot and have to rely on being lucky,” said Jess Pease, a graduate student from Harrisonburg, Va. studying forestry.

Brewer, an SIUC alumna, said she thinks there is more parking than many people are aware of.

In 2001, a land use survey asked students, staff, and faculty what they considered important on campus, Gatton said. He said the survey found SIU actually has more parking than students, so creating more parking lots wasn’t convenient.

The lots located near the SIU Arena, Communications Building and Brush Towers are farther away from campus and require a longer walk, but they do offer commuter parking.

The parking trend at many colleges, such as SIUE, is similar to SIU in that faculty and staff spaces are closer and student spaces are farther, Gatton said.

Brewer said students can avoid the frustration they experience when struggling to find a convenient parking space. Enrolling in 8 a.m. classes and even parking off campus can save students stress and sometimes money, she said.

Gatton said part of commuting to college is learning how to deal with things like parking.

“I’ve noticed students who wait for close spots for 15 minutes when there’s more parking half a block away,” Gatton said. “It’s like going to Walmart and wanting to park 20 feet from the door, so you circle the lot for an hour before you park.”

There’s a certain expectation for suitable parking, especially since students pay for a parking sticker, Brewer said. What most students don’t realize is that staff and faculty also pay for parking, she said.

According to the Department of Public Safety, a decal bought in August for faculty and staff costs between $70 and $125 and a commuter decal costs $62.

Parking sticker rates are determined by the costs of maintaining campus areas such as roads and parking lots, Gatton said.

The solution for the parking dilemma would be more parking garages, which would mean more convenient parking, but it would be reflected in the cost of parking sticker rates, he said.

For example, parking stickers at the University of Illinois can cost $600 or more per year, he said.

Not only do parking garages cost three to six times more to build and maintain, they’re not aesthetically pleasing on any campus, Gatton said.

“Campus is very beautiful, but the entrance had a parking lot, a parking garage and a dilapidated football stadium,” Gatton said. “This is because what became the main entrance was initially the back door and as controversial as it may be, we had to clean up the entrance to our university.”

The green spaces, or the grassy, wooded areas, are really a part of the SIU campus, Gatton said.

“If we create all parking conveniently right next to buildings,” he said, “all we’re going to have is buildings and parking lots.”

 

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About Tiffany Blanchette

Senior at SIUC majoring in photojournalism and zoology. Can be easily reached at tblanchette@dailyegyptian.com or 618-536-3311 ext. 254.

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