Parking remains on forefront of Board’s agenda

Kara McIntyre

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.31.44 PMThe Board of Regents will meet on Feb. 11-12 to discuss a new strategic plan for the university including a five-year plan for parking on campus.

But this wasn’t the first plan the Board developed.

“Any time you have a long-term vision, it’s extremely difficult as a Board, and frankly as an administration, to not only look at tomorrow, but to look at the next 20 years,” Shawn Hessing, Board chair, said. “We want to meet the needs of the campus and the students as a whole.”

Hessing continued.

“To be clear, that wasn’t so much of a master plan as it was a strategic initiative. Putting those pictures and plans out there exposes you a little bit because people think of it as a formal adopted plan, when in fact it was just a directional vision,” Hessing said. “I wouldn’t say it was a ‘scrapping’ of the master plan, just directional changes. We didn’t change things, we changed priorities.”

With the new residence hall scheduled for completion this summer and other buildings planned, students remain concerned about having sufficient, and convenient, parking. The plan that the Board approved last year had a parking garage as an option, which has been postponed until at least 2021.

“The parking garage has just been pushed back from a priority standpoint. If we had unlimited cash resources, magically we could do things overnight,” Hessing said. “But we don’t, so what we have to do is figure out where the money is going to come from to pay for all of these things.”

Before the parking garage construction begins, University President Suzanne Shipley said real estate options are being considered to address the parking issues more quickly.

“Things unroll one right after the other, so right now we have a bid on a house that could be torn down to make more parking. We are always watching the parking issue, because that isn’t really something you can ignore,” Shipley said. “That part will be decided at future Board meetings.”

While there will be some loss of parking spaces when construction on a new health sciences building begins, the Board and Shipley also have a plan to address this issue without the use of a parking garage.

“Although there is a bit of parking that will be taken up, it’s being more than reclaimed by other lots that we have planned,” Shipley said.