Parking Deck opens
Amanda Boyer/Photography Editor
What a difference a year makes.
At the beginning of last year, long lines of cars prowled around lots and through all the floors of the parking deck looking for a place to park before class started.
As the new academic year began, parking has become a breeze, thanks in large measure to the completion of 594 new spaces in the $12.6 million parking garage expansion.
"It took 20 minutes and nothing less than a miracle to get parking last year," said junior commuter Jamie McIlvaine. "This year, all it takes is a couple of minutes to find good parking. It’s nice to know that the university really made an effort to help us commuters out!"
Junior commuter Meldrick Von Umahon said the garage extension has helped a lot. "I don’t have to worry about not finding a spot and being late to class," he said.
Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Tracy H. Gottlieb, said in an interview that she has not received a single phone call with parking complaints since the garage opened late last month.
Dr. Gottlieb said that temporary measures that were taken last year to ease the parking crunch are being reviewed now. The lot that was opened on the Galleon Lawn will be phased out and planted over with grass, although the timing of the restoration has not been decided. The approximately 25 additional parking spaces that were made available on South Orange Avenue will be continued through this year, in part to provide parking for the new Public Relations and Marketing Department building and other university offices on South Orange Avenue.
Dr. Gottieb said the university has not asked South Orange to renew the parking spaces on Ward Place.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved addition runs the length of the soccer field and is five levels. First level parking is reserved for resident clergy, faculty, and staff with violators subject to ticketing or towing. All other spots are available for university community parking. The new spaces can be found by following the yellow arrows and blue signs throughout the structure.
In an address to the university community last month, President Gabriel Esteban said that the cost of the garage expansion came out to approximately $21,000 per space. Much of the funding for the project had to be borrowed but the administration also increased parking fees for students and faculty.
The good news for commuters and car owners who live on campus: after increases two years in a row, parking permit prices are not expected to rise again any time soon.
"Parking fees had stayed the same for a dozen years," Dr.Gottlieb said. "I don’t anticipate any further rate increases."
Parking is a major component in the overarching effort to accommodate commuters on campus. Junior commuter Francis Ahmed said, "Overall, I believe SHU is doing a phenomenal job this year in making improvements across the board."
Parking Services seeks to provide the best service possible to the members of the Seton Hall community and its visitors. Parking Services mission is to "ensure that parking spaces are available for those who have permits." Over the summer, the administration announced plans for maintaining this goal.
According to Dr. Gottlieb, the administration commissioned a "parking task force in order to make parking more equitable." That task force was headed by Director of Academic Support Services, Matthew Geibel, and one of its recommendations was to find a way to help shoulder the cost of the addition. One of the more viable suggestions was to install Pay Stations for visitor parking.
Around 400 visitor parking passes are given out every day, Dr. Gottieb said. There is no limit to guest parking passes. Spaces in the lot near the Farinella Gate entrance were numbered over the summer in anticipation of the new visitor-fee system.
"This isn’t about earning revenue, it’s about fairness," Dr. Gottlieb said. Revenue collected on the visitor spaces would go toward bolstering security and other public safety initiatives.
There was substantial negative reaction to the plan from the athletics department, alumni relations and admissions. The proposal was put on hold after technical problems were discovered in keeping the new system safe from computer hackers.
The plan is still active, Dr. Gottlieb said, and could be in place for the spring semester if the technical issues and the number of exemptions can be worked out.
In light of the new spaces from the parking garage expansion, the grass is going to be reinstalled on Galleon Lawn, located behind the cafeteria next to the Boland gate. The reinstallation was pushed back in order to accommodate the carnival following the Class of 2018’s convocation last Sunday Aug. 24. Because of that delay, the timeline of the project is still being deliberated.
Emily Balan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.