By Nicole Shepard, News Editor @NicoleEShepard
With the hole in the ground that was once valuable parking space, a cocktail of frustration and panic over the inevitable battle for a decent parking spot has already washed over the student body.
A $53 million classroom building takes up a lot of space, and because the state didn’t also provide funding for a reallocation of parking space, and Parking Services has found itself in a similar conundrum as last year.
“Many students are worried it will be worse than last year with the lost space,” Jim Innes, assistant director of Parking Services, said. “But we don’t think it’ll be much different. With the new parking structure pulling visitors out of student parking and the drop in enrollment, we expect about the same congestion as last year.”
In 2012 there were 2,685 students with parking passes and only 2,600 stalls. This year being a repeat of last year doesn’t sound encouraging. But knowledge is power and Jim Innes shared some parking wisdom.
First, come early. Don’t think you can get away with showing up in your car ten minutes before your class. Not on the campus that packs in more people per square foot than any other in Utah. Second, you need to give up the hunt.
“Don’t waste time hunting for a space close to the buildings,” Innes said. “We sometimes will watch people circle around the front lots for so long that they miss their classes. They just drive around and around thinking that they will get a spot as soon as it opens up while there are plenty of spaces a few hundred yards away.”
Another handy tip is to not attempt to park between 10 am and noon.
“Ten on Wednesday is the busiest time,” Innes said. “So if you can avoid it, do. Also it’s best to avoid trying to drive to school in the first two to three weeks. There are more people trying to park then than at any other time in the semester.”
Being a commuter school, it’s difficult to tell the student body to leave their cars at home.
“I come down from Draper,” Becca Langstrom, nursing student and mother of two, said. “I live a crazy busy life, and I can’t see any other way of doing this. I need my car. And I need a parking spot.”
The administration recognizes that UVU has a unique student body for a university; a student body that does not have the option of walking to school from the on-campus dorms.
“We understand that for many of the students, not bringing a car simply isn’t an option,” Innes said. “And believe it or not, we’re trying. We encourage people to take public transit. We’ve worked to make that affordable. We hope that more will carpool. There are ways to be creative.”
A common complaint of students is that the school seems to be building new facilities and using up more and more parking space without replacing any.
“No funding from your tuition or the state goes to parking, it’s against state policy,” Innes said. “Students often ask us why we don’t just build more parking structures. But it’s not that easy, we don’t have the funding. There may be funding for a $53 million classroom building, but there isn’t any money for parking.”
With no cuts from the state or from tuition, Parking Services has their hands tied when it comes to quick solutions.
“There is no short-term plan for more parking. But there are long-term plans for building parking structures at the Geneva property,” Innes said.
Luckily for the upcoming year, the parking structure east of the Liberal Arts building will be opened for fall semester. But students need to know it’s not going to be cheap to park there.
“It’ll be visitor parking and will pay for itself through the hourly parking fees,” Innes said. “Students are more than welcome to park there. It’ll cost two dollars an hour, but it’s available. But even if that’s too steep, remember it will really free up a lot of space in other lots.”