Feedback positive for parking garage

People in the Butler University and Butler-Tarkington communities who have seen the school’s parking garage plans are providing mostly positive feedback.

A plan for a mixed-use parking garage was endorsed by Butler’s Board of Trustees at the end of September.

Approximately 1,000 parking spots, an undetermined number of living spaces and, potentially, some retail businesses could be added with the construction of the garage.

The Keystone Group will be working with Butler’s trustee facilities committee on the project, which is expected to break ground this spring.

Bill Weber, assistant police chief, said he was pleased with the university’s decision to build a parking garage.

“I’m thrilled because this will help the university to grow,” Weber said. “I know it’ll make students happy because now they’ll have more parking spaces.”

In “Number of parking spots remains stagnant” (Sept. 19), Rich Michal, executive director of facilities, said Butler will probably lose about 200 spots in the Clowes Memorial Hall parking lot, where the garage is expected to be built.

If university officials are able to get plans for the “beautification” of Sunset Avenue approved in the future, Butler will also lose the parking along the sides of that street.

Michal said the university is “aggressively pursuing federal funding…to eliminate parking on our streets.”

Jeremy Stewart, Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood

Association president, said his initial reaction to the garage was concern, but his views changed when he thought about effects the garage could have on the area.

“The idea is to get some cars off Sunset,” Stewart said. “And there are—even though there shouldn’t be—many students who park in the neighborhood. So we can get those (vehicles) out.”

Stewart said Butler officials first approached the BTNA as early as last spring to talk about making changes to Sunset Avenue, including adding medians.

He said officials met with the association again when Butler started looking for applicants to preside over the construction of the garage.

“(The important thing is) mostly getting concentrated parking,” Stewart said. “If (students) have a spot they can park, it’s going to help neighbors keep people out of their yards.”

Neil Bloede, a BTNA board member, has worked with Stewart during the organization’s talks with university officials. He said the garage could benefit the Butler-Tarkington community beyond keeping its streets more clear.

“If the retail side is explored, it could really help the neighborhood,” Bloede said.

Weber and Stewart both said the parking garage will serve as a good starting point for Butler if it wishes to continue to grow, population-wise.

They also said the community surrounding Butler may not be as crowded during events at Clowes and Hinkle Fieldhouse thanks to the parking garage.

The garage will especially benefit BUPD during the last few months of each year, when students often fly to various locations during breaks and do not take their vehicles with them.

Weber said he asked everyone leaving a vehicle on campus during winter break last school year to park in the Residential College lot so he could watch and protect vehicles more easily.

“It’s easier to keep an eye on cars in one lot than going and checking a car that’s parked at Sigma Nu and then going to University Terrace,” Weber said. “The garage would have the same effect. The more cars I can put in there, the better I can control access and the safer I can keep cars.”

Despite the potential pros of the garage, Stewart said the BTNA has expressed worry over two key issues.

The potential location of the garage is one point of concern. It will be built on the east side of campus, which is on the west side of the Butler-Tarkington community.

Stewart said community members are unsure if the interface between the “highly institutional side” of Sunset Avenue and the residential side of the road will change with the garage’s creation.

The BTNA’s other major concern revolves around preserving the nature setting along Lake Road.

Stewart said the Keystone Group’s plan for the garage eased some of the BTNA’s worries.

“They’re keeping a lot of trees along Lake Road, a lot more than we thought they could,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the planned design of the building will allow it to fit in with the neighborhood as well, adding that the facade proposed for the side of the building along Sunset Avenue is “very attractive.”

The garage will likely not be finished until spring 2014, and Weber said construction could draw complaints from Butler residents.

At the end of the day, however, he said Butler will be better off when the job is complete.

“What do they call it, growing pains?” Weber said. “It’ll be nice when it’s all done.”

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