Parking woes abound as committee weighs options

Frustrated finding parking on Northside? You're not alone.

Despite there being a higher number of total resident spaces available than resident permits issued, discontent among students over the shortage of spaces on Northside has raised the attention of Parking Services.

According to University Police, there are 1,336 resident parking spaces on campus, and 1,215 resident permits issued. Additionally, there are 73 more spots on Northside than there are on Southside.

Since it is likely that a lower percentage of freshmen have permits (records on the academic year of permit-holders aren't kept) compared to upperclassmen and there is a higher percentage of freshmen on Southside than there is on north (59 percent of total Southside residents compared to 28 percent of Northside residents), the imbalance may account for some of the parking issues.

Furthermore, there is no record in parking services showing the number of Northside parkers in contrast to Southside parkers, though most drivers on campus will attest that the former is far greater by measure of experience.

"I think they give out enough parking for the spots available, but they don't take into consideration where your dorm is," said freshman Megan Musilli. "We can all have parking spots. We just have to park on the other side of campus."

Students have not been so vocal about the issue for several years, according to University Police Inspector Joe VanRemmen, who oversees parking services. He said the recent rise in complaints may have to do with the residence hall situation.

Up until January 2008, he said, "[residence hall] refurbishing has meant that usually one residence hall has been [not open for residents]. This has given Northside students the ability to park in closer proximity with less demand for spaces than has been seen prior to the refurbishing going on."

Grievances among students are not limited to matters of practicality. Several students expressed that late in the evening is simultaneously the most dangerous and the least accessible time for parking on campus.

"I find it extremely uncomfortable to walk long distances alone at night," said freshman Erin Moll. "I have $45 worth of tickets for parking in the wrong lot. I came back on Sunday at 11:30 p.m., and I didn't want to walk all the way from the lot by the Statesmen or from Southside to Jones by myself, in the cold and in the dark."

In response to such complaints, the Parking Committee of students, faculty and staff are weighing the issue and looking toward a solution.

"Some that I have heard include building more parking lots on the north side, not allowing first-year students to have cars, or the possibility of charging different amounts for parking in parking lots depending on their proximity," VanRemmen said.

He added that some changes independent of parking, such as the redistribution of freshmen on campus, might also work towards solving these issues.

Mike Mooney, associate director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation, is chair of the Parking Committee. He added that some solutions may also be in students' hands. If students chose to live on Southside, where parking is abundant, or to utilize the bus system on campus rather than bring cars, the issue of parking might be reduced.

Both VanRemmen and Mooney said that any major decision like building a parking lot would not only weigh heavily on the school's budget, but also detract from Geneseo's physical appeal.

"We have green, we have trees, which I think is one of the things that makes Geneseo nicer than many of the other schools," Mooney said. "You can't have everything, so we're trying to figure out what will work to give everybody the best opportunity."

Any final decision would also be contingent on knowing the exact percentage of freshmen drivers and the specific break-down between North and Southside parking. This information is currently not recorded as permits are issued.

"In the short-term," Mooney said, "I'm not sure there are a lot of easy answers. I think it's a complicated issue, and it may take the combination of many different things to do something about it."