University community airs campus parking frustrations

By Joel Lanceta

T.J. Flippin kept his black SUV out in the Shoreland Hall parking lot for most of the winter. As a result his vehicle has accumulated a wintry dirt covering. Even with a car available, he still often took the University’s public transportation to campus.

“It is virtually impossible to find parking during class or if you come to campus after 12:00 P.M.” said Flippin, a second-year in the College. “I’ve gotten three parking tickets on campus since I’ve been here.”

Flippin said the new parking garage on 55th Street and Ellis Avenue has not helped him either, since it charges during peak hours on weekdays and often there is no visitor parking available during the day, as the garage fills up in the early morning hours.

But, whereas a car is a luxury for Flippin and many students who live in Hyde Park apartments or off-campus dorms, who can ride buses provided by the University to get to campus or use other forms of public transportation like the CTA, for Cyndra Crenshaw and Kristyn Contreres, two commuter students, a car is essential.

“This morning I had a very hard time parking. Even at 7:25 A.M. it was hard to find a parking space,” said Crenshaw, a second-year in the College.

Contreres does not feel that opening more parking lots and garages will solve her parking problems. “If they open up more lots, those lots are going to be farther away and they’re still going to charge for them,” said Contreres, a first-year in the College. “When I leave the college at around 8 at night, I don’t want to walk that far to the garage on 55th. No one wants to walk that far at night.”

While the University has added new parking facilities and 500 additional parking spaces since the fall of 2000 and has 19 parking lots, some students and faculty are still having difficulty finding available parking.

Meredith Mack, associate vice president for facilities services, conceded that parking was still crowded in Hyde Park and on campus.

“On-street parking is usually near 100 percent full,” Mack said, noting that people prefer to park for free. “The University will continue to explore ways to ease the parking situation, including encouraging use of public transportation and providing additional parking, but we do not have plans to add another large parking structure at this time.”

According to Steven Beaudoin, director of safety and parking services, many factors play into parking on campus, including the major construction projects around campus that block some streets, such as the new gym and the new GSB building, and the fact that the University is located in a major metropolitan city, where tight parking is the norm.

“The philosophy of the parking system is designed to protect the parking privileges of the permit-holder and visitors during normal business hours, while making the parking system generally available, after normal business hours, to the surrounding community and/or other casual users,” Beaudoin said.

Parking permits are available to any member of the University body, including staff, faculty, and students, though with certain restrictions on who can use which lot. The price for a permit depends on which lot the permit holder uses, with fees ranging from $30 per month at the Edelstone and Law School parking lots to $40 per month at the Pierce, Stony Island, and Woodward parking lots. The co