SGA relays student parking input

Katie Goodrich | Staff Reporter

Student Government Association and the Butler University Police Department plan to make further parking changes in addition to the changes announced prior to Fall Break.

The two groups worked together to implement changes that would be beneficial for the students and the parking situation.

Ben Hunter, chief of staff and executive director of public safety, gave a presentation with Jennifer Pyrz, supervising engineer at Parsons Brinckerhoff, at the Student Government Association meeting on Oct. 23.

Parsons Brinckerhoff is a consulting firm that specializes in analyzing parking.

Hunter and Pyrz talked about the most recent changes made on campus, and presented parking data for the first months of the academic year.

Hunter acknowledged that BUPD was prepared to make changes concerning parking.

“We knew we weren’t going to land it perfectly,” Hunter said during the SGA meeting. “That’s why we’re working with the student government.”

Craig Fisher, SGA president, said BUPD values a strong relationship with students.

“Chief Hunter and his staff have always understood the value of involving students, especially when it comes to parking,” Fisher said. “To involve students means not only to represent them, but also report the feedback that they need.”

Fisher said BUPD asked for input, and the SGA did its part to provide student response. Last week, there were “Transportation Chats” at locations around campus such as Starbucks and the Health and Recreation Complex. The chats complied data directly from students.

Fisher said the administration appreciates data and needs it to solve any problem.

Kate Carroll, vice president of administration for SGA, is the student representative for the parking committee, which is influential in the process of changing parking.

Carroll is in charge of organizing the data and presenting the data at meetings like the SGA Assembly.

“The SGA is always trying to empower that relationship more and more to bring student issues to light and get them resolved,” Fisher said.

Fisher said BUPD looks to the SGA to connect with the entire student body.

“Our SGA is a focal point for anyone who wants to reach out to the student body,” Fisher said. “We are organized to do just that and be that resource.”

Bill Weber, assistant police chief, said only hopes to improve BUPD’s relationship with the students.

“I think the relationship between BUPD and SGA is good,” Weber said. “I suspect that it will increase as I mature in my role.”

BUPD will look to the SGA as it considers making more changes in the future.Due to the fast pace of the project, Weber said he appreciates the input.

“When this project was handed to me and a couple others in June and we were told it had to be done by August when students move in, I was like, ‘Are you for real?’” Weber said. “The SGA is doing what they’re supposed to be doing—advocating.”

Weber said the changes came from the combination of input from the parking committee, SGA, and BUPD’s own observations of campus. When he noticed that the Housing Village lots, used for Apartment Village residents, were “squeezed,” Weber thought BUPD should just make the changes sooner rather than later.

Weber said he thinks the changes are positive. Weber also said he does not measure the progress of the parking situation by number of tickets written.

“It is what it is,” Weber said. “If more or less or the same (number of parking tickets) are written, so be it.”

Fisher said he feels the changes were timely. He said he wants students to realize that changes take time.

“One thing to understand about high-level changes like this is that they don’t happen overnight, or even a week,” Fisher said. “When students have concerns, it’s ultimately important to understand that patience is needed.”

Looking to the future, Weber said more changes will occur.

The Streetscape project, that is set to begin in April 2014, will allow no street parking on Sunset Avenue from 46th Street to Lake Road, according to Butler’s parking website. The project will include bike lanes and medians, which will eliminate street parking for commuters, residents, and Lambda Chi Alpha residents, Weber said.

These changes will happen before the end of the academic year, and Weber has ideas he wants to implement.

“I want to open up more parking for the commuters in the ResCo Lot,” Weber said.

There are also discussions for changing the parking lot near Fairbanks Building to be a combination of both A and B permit parking. Despite complaints from students with B permits of lack of parking, there are 54 parking spots open in this lot on average, according to Pyrz’s presentation.

Pyrz said there are more than 1,100 empty parking spots on campus. Her presentation stated, “[The empty spots] may not be located where everyone wants them.” Only 35 percent of I Lot spots are being used, so people with G permits and long-term residents in University Terrace and Apartment Village are being encouraged to use the lot as overflow or to  buy an I permit, according to Pyrz’s presentation.

For next year, Weber said he wants to clear off part of Greek row. He is looking for 10-12 spaces for cars that would have previously parked on the curve from Haughey Avenue to Hampton Drive.

“I’m not a traffic engineer, but I’d like to know what would happen if I moved around those 10 to 12 cars,” Weber said.

Weber wants to move the cars to open a line of sight to allow drivers to see pedestrians crossing the street near Schwitzer Hall.

Incoming freshmen could also be directly affected by future parking changes.

“If the university chooses to restrict freshmen from bringing cars onto campus, there’s always going to be a need for some freshmen to have a car on campus,” Weber said.

Although it is not his decision, Weber said the university has two options: restrict freshmen from bringing cars to campus or only allow them to buy an I permit.

Weber said the pressing concern now for BUPD is cars with HV permits moving from the Hinkle Fieldhouse and AV lots during the basketball games.  The I Lot was created to redirect those cars, according to Weber.

“It’s potentially 400 less complaints coming from the neighborhood to the university,” Weber said.

Weber said students will be notified through Residence Life, the Butler Connection, and fliers that have been made by BUPD. The information will also be tweeted through BUPD’s twitter handle, @ButlerUPolice.

Weber is still concerned that cars will remain in the lots during basketball games.

“I am worried to death that, overnight, there’s 80 cars in this lot,” Weber said. “The information was made available to you. I don’t know what else to do except go up and knock on your forehead, and say move your car.”

Weber said he understands the inconvenience, but he said that BUPD is serious when it comes to this matter.

“That’s the agreement we made with the city,” Weber said. “I hope I don’t have to tow a lot of cars, but I know after we do this two or three times that I won’t have to. BUPD isn’t playing around.