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Parking plan discussed at hearings
May 3, 1999
About 100 faculty, staff and graduate students Wednesday afternoon grilled the Parking Advisory Committee about a new campus parking plan that, for the first time, will charge most UConn employees for the privilege.
Donna Wakeman, director of traffic and parking services, walked the audience through the plan which, she said, is true to the principle espoused in the University's strategic plan and master facilities plan. By moving cars and trucks out of center campus to the largest extent possible, the University's academic core becomes a better, safer place for pedestrians. And, by charging for convenience (the closer to their office, or the campus core, that people park, the higher the cost of parking), the traffic services division will soon become self-sustaining, providing the funds necessary to improve the shuttle system and repair existing parking lots.
Participants at Wednesday's meeting, the second of two hearings, expressed concerns about loading zones, long walks, special payroll employees and visitors. Some complained that a graduated fee scale was unfair - weighted too much to the high end or low end, depending on the speaker's perspective. Other complaints were more pointed, and more personal, reflecting bad experiences with parking tickets, parking ticket appeals, long waits for shuttle buses, problems locating available parking spaces and lack of communication.
And, of course, there were a variety of comments about the cost itself.
The plan, which will take effect in September, was developed by the advisory committee, comprised of representatives of UConn's four largest labor unions, the University Senate, the administration, undergraduate and graduate students, public safety, athletics, facilities and the Center for Students with Disabilities. The group began in-depth discussions on the issue last September and has met bi-weekly since January.
The plan, while keeping sections of W, I, and F lots, and a section of the Depot Campus, reserved for free parking, institutes a fee schedule for the first time. Based on a sliding scale, the charges - which will be automatically deducted from employee paychecks - range from $75 to $165, with most employees falling into the $120 bracket, or about $4.60 each pay period. The plan retains restricted parking in the campus core, but reopens other staff lots to all employees using non-core parking, replacing the current system of assigned lots.
People who wish to park in the core will be charged $350 annually, a slight increase from 1998, and people who want annual spots in the North Garage will pay $400, also increased from the current fee. The number of reserved spots in the garage also will increase, from 200 to 400 slots for faculty and staff. There will be 200 spaces reserved for students in the garage, who will pay $300.
A lottery will be held to determine who receives reserved or garage spots.
The new plan also restores the use of hanging decals for employees who occasionally use a second car. Application forms will be mailed to all faculty, staff and students this week, said Karla Fox, an associate vice chancellor chair of the advisory committee.
Wakeman and Fox also said the University would seek a bonding package to provide the funds for a second parking garage, likely to be located across Stadium Road from the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, an area of campus that urgently needs more parking.
"Future parking construction will be up, not out," Wakeman said, noting that there are few areas left on campus where surface lots are feasible.
Wakeman acknowledged that not all issues have been resolved, but she said the committee will now address many of those concerns, including making decisions regarding how to accommodate people unloading or loading cars, how and what to charge people who spend little time on campus, including adjunct professors, special payroll employees, and part-time employees; whether and where to build additional shuttle bus shelters; whether to increase the hours of operation in the shuttle system to accommodate people who arrive before the shuttle starts at 6:30 a.m. start; and how to better enforce the rules.
"We have worked very, very hard to be fair throughout this process," Wakeman said. "Unfortunately, almost every change that improves one piece of the puzzle impacts another piece. But we truly believe we have developed a system that is fair to most people."