A convenient parking space is not something easy to come by on most college campuses. Now, with the university’s master plan first stages beginning construction, a parking place might be a little harder for UMHB students to find, as well.
“During this first phase of construction that’s going to impact parking this fall, we’re going to lose about 110 parking spaces,” Chief of Police Gary Sargent said. “We’re encouraging individuals to park over by Presser Hall, and there’s an abundance of parking that was more than adequate to replace that number of spaces.”
Sargent realizes losing the parking places is going to affect students getting to class but suggests they be aware of the extra time it might take them to get to class and prepare for that in advance.
He said, “If you schedule your classes from 9 a.m. till about 12 or 1 p.m., parking on campus is going to be at or near capacity during those hours. The later you get into the day, especially those mid- morning hours, it becomes more congested.”
Though parking lots are being closed to prepare for construction, plans for new parking lots have been in place from the beginning of the master plan.
“We’ve done a good job of making it a needs-based plan. We can’t design a parking facility where everyone parks at the front door, but we can hopefully get you close to the building you are going to be in. We’re really trying to factor in student desires,” Sargent said.
The plans for parking lots are already set, including building new lots along University Drive between Burt and McLane halls, and eventually along Crusader Way, but the university would appreciate
feedback from students.
Sargent said, “I would encourage students to make their voices heard as far as what their expectations are and their view of transportation on campus. You have to understand where the university is going, but with that in mind, what is it we can do collectively to make this an ideal situation for folks across campus?”
Junior psychology major Hailey Loftis understands the university is in a period of transition and is keeping an open mind about the changes coming to campus.
She said, “I think it could probably affect us in the long run because they will be gone so students will have to do more walking. It’s not really a big deal, but it’s probably less convenient.”
Loftis recognizes the importance of the nursing program at the university and the need for new facilities to support the growing department.
“There are so many people here who do nursing. I think it will help, even if we lose the parking,” she said.
Senior Vice President for Planning and Support Services Edd Martin is aware that parking spots can be difficult to come by sometimes on campus and that closing the lots will change how people get around campus.
“We have right now about 3,600 parking spaces on campus, and we have 3,100 students. By the time you add faculty and staff to that mix, it’s pretty tight at times. There’s usually some parking. It’s just not always as convenient as people would like,” Martin said.
One issue Martin points out as adding to parking congestion is students on campus driving a few blocks to get to class instead of walking or biking.
He said, “One of our issues right now is we have some students who live on campus that feel compelled to drive to the other side of campus to classes. There may be reasons for that … but something we would like to see is students on campus not do that except when necessary.”
Martin has listened to concerns and hopes the university can work out the issues to the benefit of everyone.
“Most students understand and are maybe concerned but not overly concerned. Some of the faculty have voiced some concern. I think everyone’s taking it in stride. There are some concerns and questions and, hopefully, we’re able to answer those,” Martin said.
With the master plan starting to become a reality, the university will be in a transitional state for a while until buildings are completed.
“We’re going to be in a state of construction probably through fall of 2013. So for about another 24 months we’re going to see a lot of activity. Then there might be a bit of a lull because the next big project is the performing arts center, and that’s probably not until 2014,” Martin said. “I think we will probably be in a state of flux with construction, parking and renovations over the next few years.”