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Storrs parking garage opens gates

Marc Schreiber bounded across the pavement, leaping over a cement island that supported ticket machines, to greet the occupants of a Jeep Cherokee.

"Good morning. Welcome to your new garage," he said, briefly explaining to the students how the tickets and gates would work beginning Friday, when hourly parking fees replace free parking at the North Campus parking garage. Then, turning away quickly, he dashed across to the employee-only entrance, where faculty and staff who pay for long-term parking will enter the five-story structure, repeating his greeting, this time to a UConn employee.

Then he was off agani.

Schreiber, a customer service representative who will manage UConn's first parking garage for Propark, the Hartford-based parking management firm that will operate the garage, was everywhere Thursday morning, as the 1,027-space, $9.6 million facility officially opened. A UConn 2000 project, the building was completed on schedule and slightly under budget.

With its red brick and white pre-cast concrete facade, the garage blends nicely into the landscape of the Hillside and North Eagleville roads area, and follows the architectural standards prescribed for UConn 2000 projects in the nearly completed campuswide master plan. Like the refurbished field house several hundred yards away, it is a reflection of the physical transformation the Storrs campus is undergoing.

As well as providing extra parking for faculty, staff and students, the garage will be a boon to campus visitors, who will have ample sheltered parking within walking distance of Jorgensen Auditorium and the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, and a short shuttle bus ride to any other campus location: a shuttle stop has been added directly across from the building's entrance, between the garage and the ROTC building.

The garage will be open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, says William Barrett, executive director of administrative and logistical services. All but 400 spaces will be available for hourly parking, which will cost 75 cents for each of the first two hours, and 50 cents for each additional hour, up to a maximum charge of $5. The entire first level - 200 spaces - will be reserved as long-term parking for faculty and staff. Another 200 will be reserved as long-term parking for commuter students. The remaining 627 will be open on a first-come, first-served basis.

Employees or students interested in purchasing a long-term pass for the garage should contact the Parking Services Office at (860) 486-4930. The fee is $200 for employees and $150 for commuter students.

While the additional spaces will help ease the parking crunch on campus, the pace of progress under UConn 2000 means there will soon be more parking changes.

At the rear of F-lot, behind the Public Safety Complex, workers have already begun site work for the new central warehouse. Construction will begin on a new physics and biology building behind the Edward V. Gant Science Complex, and on a new UConn Ice Arena, as soon as weather conditions allow. Work also is expected to begin this spring or summer on the new agricultual biotechnology building off Route 195.

Construction also may begin in May on the new School of Business Administration at the former Dow Field site. Until then, about 100 restricted spaces are still available on the Dow Field lot, which is open to all UConn employees for a fee.

"Everything is relative. Everything is fluid," Barrett says. "The pace of construction on campus is phenomenal. The good news is that, for the moment, we've added parking spaces close to center campus. The very good news is that two more new academic buildings, and a new warehouse, are almost ready to go up."

Larry Schilling, University architect, adds that progress on two other major projects, the new chemistry building and the South Campus residence halls, remain on schedule. Those facilities are expected to be open in time for the start of the 1998-99 academic year.

Richard Veilleux