Latest parking strategy aims to divide and conquer

By Allie Ward

In an attempt to alleviate the overcrowding and disorganization associated with parking on the Lawrenceville campus, administrators have made some notable changes ­— including 11 categories of drivers — for the fall 2009 semester.
“This is a plan so that people won’t have as many hassles trying to find a parking space,” said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell.

The university has spent more than $2 million since last spring building and repainting parking lots and on an elaborate signage system. There is a net gain of 180 new parking spaces on the Lawrenceville campus this year, totaling roughly 3,000 parking spaces.

However, there are about 4,000 full-time undergraduate students plus about 2,000  graduate students, part-time students and employees. Still, Campbell maintains there is enough room for everyone to park.

“There are some who only come at night and commuter students aren’t here the whole time; not all residents have cars and not all faculty and staff are here at the same time,” he said. “I think it is going to be enough.”

At Westminster Choir College, a plan to add at least 66 new  parking spaces has been delayed. For this semester, the shuttle system between the Westminster and Lawrenceville campuses has been rearranged based on class schedules and student input, Campbell said.

The sororities now have a gated lot behind Delta Phi Epsilon, Centennial House, Alpha Xi Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha. The OIT employees who work in Centennial House will now park in a gated lot next to Maurer Gym. There are also 53 open spaces available in front of Maurer Gym. Faculty and staff can park in the gated lot in front of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC).

To ease the congestion in the lot in front of the BLC, freshman commuters will now park in the new back lot behind the soccer field. The lot is also open to Poyda residents.

“One of the reasons we wanted to make [the new back lot] for freshman commuters is because freshman commuters usually don’t have night classes, so we figured we can double duty the lot so that when freshmen are finished with classes — after 5 p.m. — it will free up the lot for athletic events,” Campbell said.

After 5 p.m., freshman commuters will be allowed to park in front of the BLC, which will encourage them to engage in campus activities, said Debbie Stasolla, associate vice president for planning.

Freshman residents will continue to park in the same place as last year, again for a $200 fee. There are also new designated spots in the BLC bookstore lot for admissions visitors and in the old O lot for regular visitors.

“We’ve identified some visitor spots so that they would be parking in an area — as opposed to taking commuter spots — and we’re going to be monitoring that and see how it works out,” Campbell said.

West Village residents are free to park in the new gated lot alongside the buildings. This new lot — like the new back lot that was completed for the opening of the spring 2009 semester — is made of a coarse retention-based material called porous pavement, which absorbs water.

Mike Reca, associate vice president of Auxiliary Services, explained that the porous pavement meets township requirements to help prevent flooding and excess runoff.

“There are air voids in the aggregate so when the rain comes in, it actually filters down through a layer of sand and stone and becomes groundwater,” he said. “For especially heavy rains, there is a backup system of underground basins.”

Though porous pavement is expensive — $750,000 for the West Village lot and $1.5 million for the new back lot — the advantage is that water doesn’t go back into streams; it runs down into the soil. Additionally, the pavement requires vacuuming with a machine that keeps the air voids open so water can pass through.

To help students with the parking changes, new signs have been posted detailing 11 categories of drivers who can and cannot park in certain lots.

“I’m hoping that commuters won’t have such a problem finding a place to park this year,” said junior Rachel Volinsky, a commuter. “Last year, it was terrible. Residents and even faculty would park in C lot, and I’d have to drive around for 15 minutes trying to find an open spot.”

There were discussions of other possible solutions to the parking problems at Rider. Senior Frank Romano, Student Government Association president, suggested eliminating the designations in the lot in front of the BLC and letting students develop their own patterns of parking. Ultimately, however, that plan was shelved.

“I am disappointed because I understand everyone’s concerns with doing something different, but sometimes it’s best to try something new when you can always change it,” Romano wrote in an e-mail. “Hopefully, [the student] senate will provide opportunity for different proposals to emerge that we can vote on to implement for the spring or later this fall.”

On the Lawrenceville campus, administrators will observe the new parking plan and make changes as needed.

“Parking is always an issue that we’re going to continually be concerned about,” Campbell said. “We’ll continue to monitor, and we’ll continue to work together with the students to make sure we have a feasible plan.”

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