Parking Committee Faces Tough Task

NATALIE SMITH | Asst. News Editor

It’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. A group sits down with an agenda, ready to discuss, recommend and vote on one of Butler University’s most controversial topics—parking.

This group of 15 faculty and staff members and two students is called the parking committee.

“The committee meets to discuss issues involving parking and makes recommendations and decisions to resolve those issues,” said Assistant Chief of Police Bill Weber.

The parking committee is currently facing the task of allocating spots for the school’s next school year due to the upcoming streetscape project.

Streetscape will take away commuter parking on the west side of Sunset Avenue, faculty and staff parking near the curve by the Health and Recreation Complex, and almost 15 spots in the Residential College parking lot.

One suggestion from the committee is moving commuter parking to the Hinkle Fieldhouse parking lot.

Kate Carroll, vice president of administration for the Student Government Association, is one of two student representatives on the committee. Carroll said this would create a longer walk for those who typically park on Sunset.

“They’ll have to walk farther, but there are at least spots for those cars to go,” Carroll said.

Another option is to remove a strip of A permit—faculty and staff— parking from the ResCo and Irwin parking area and change it to commuter parking. Weber said the strip of parking is not often used, but changing it could cause unhappiness.

“You have people who will say, “No, I like having that as A parking because I won’t have to look for a space,’” Weber said. “I have the needs of a faculty or staff member who wants to park there. I also have the needs of a commuter who is being moved off the street. No matter what the decision is, someone is likely not going to be happy.”

Some Greek parking will potentially be relocated next year as well. Weber said the committee is considering removing parking on the curve near 44th Street and Hampton Drive due to safety issues.

“I want to remove some of the parking spaces here because it would provide a better line of sight for a motorist coming into campus, so they can see students crossing the asphalted, the rain water can work through more parking for Greek students on top of finding parking for the spaces lost from streetscape.

Discussions within the university have begun about adding another housing building on campus. The addition of a new dorm would require an open space to build on. Parking lots are being considered in the construction plans, said Levester Johnson, vice president for student affairs.

“If (a new dorm) is the case, we’re probably going to need to figure out how to continue to provide ample parking on campus,” he said.

Weber said the parking committee is still meeting and deliberating on these issues. He said balancing and providing enough parking in the wake of these changes will be challenging.

“There’s the students, faculty and staff saying, ‘I want to be able to park here,’ and then there’s the city saying, ‘You have as much parking on your campus as you could possibly squeeze out,’” Weber said. “If you can come up with that right balance, sell your services as a consultant because you’ll make a lot of money.”

A parking consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, was brought in at the beginning of the year to help figure out parking allocation. The consultant found that there are actually more spots on campus than registered vehicles, Carroll said.

“Students complain that there are no parking spots,” Carroll said. “What it really is, is that there are no spots closest to where you want to be. People think they should be able to park right next door to their dorm. That’s not always the way it gets to work out.”

At the beginning of this school year, the committee changed some parking spot designations.

The committee addressed the concerns of faculty and staff who work in the  Fairbanks Building  and the west side of Jordan Hall who wanted to park closer to their buildings. Spots in the Fairbanks lot were kept vacant most of the time, Weber said. The committee changed 25 spots from B to A parking.

The committee addresses all parking concerns with the exception of ticketing. BUPD handles all appeals and concerns with ticketing. The only time recorded when the committee has dealt with ticketing was when it voted to raise the ticket penalty for parking in a handicapped spot without a permit.

The committee itself is comprised of faculty and staff from various areas of the university, along with two students, Carroll and junior Cory Minard, from the Council on Presidential Affairs.

“We try to have as many diverse people on there so no one view point is over or underepresented,” Weber said.

The committee does not represent every department on campus. Assistant Chief of Police Andy Ryan said when the committee was started, faculty and staff were asked to join by personal invitation. He said if someone wants to be on the committee, they can join.

“We don’t limit who can be on the committee,” Ryan said. “We obviously can’t have too large of a group of people for a committee, but we try to get a fair representation.”

Carroll and Minard joined the committee this school year to assist with parking.

“Everyone’s on the same level,” Carroll said. “We’re there to represent the student voice in all of the conversations. The committee is good about being student-first when making decisions, but they sometimes don’t know what students want.”

The parking committee discusses these issues at semimonthly meetings.

“Meetings incorporate a review of parking structure and allocation of space on campus,” Johnson said. “They entail a strategic aspect of trying to look forward and finding what’s the best means for providing parking to the various constituent groups and meeting needs.”

The meetings are open to all. Weber said students typically do not come, but he encourages them to do so.

“It’s not secret or hidden,” Weber said. “It’s an open meeting that anyone can come to.”

Meetings are held in one of three rooms in Atherton—201, 302, or 326. To get on the agenda, a student can email BUPD’s Lindsey Birt, Weber said.