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USG considers costs for improved parking

Undergraduate Student Government paved the way for the discussion of parking issues at last night’s open forum after polling students about their concerns with campus lots.

Senator Leo Almeida, who organized the open forum, called the debate a success and hoped parking improvements would be considered as a result of the discussion.

‘Students had a chance to voice their concerns and hear what the panel had to say about the changes they hope will take place,’ Almeida said. ‘My hope is that each student who came in learned about parking and now knows where parking is going.’

A panel made up of Police Chief James Wiegand, the Chief Administrator of USG Ashley Douglas and the Manager of Parking and Traffic Stacie Enriquez discussed ways to improve the condition of lots on campus as well as create a self-supporting shuttle service.

According to Enriquez, the Parking and Traffic Office has a budget of more than $1 million dollars.

They also are able to take funds from the current fund balance, which has about $500,000, as long as they gain approval first.

Currently, the office is requesting to use money from both funds in order to improve parking lots, namely Lots 12, 5, 6 overflow and 20, which would benefit both community and residential students.

‘I don’t think anyone in this room would disagree that our lots aren’t even average,’ Wiegand said. ‘[Our lots] are in poor condition.’

Wiegand and Enriquez also discussed the issue of a self-supporting shuttle service, which would include a downtown shuttle.

However, in order for such a service to run effectively, a transportation fee would have to be charged to all students attending the University.

‘If we had a transportation fee that only half the students had to pay, then there would be no accomplishment made,’ Wiegand said. ‘There is an opportunity that each and every student will use the shuttle routes at one time or another, so all would have to be charged.’

And although the transportation fee is not etched in stone, Wiegand said the amount would hopefully be less than $100.

‘We would have to look at the student population, the cost of running the shuttles and what activities the students want to be included in the routes,’ he said. ‘However, it would have to be self-supporting so parking would not have to provide funds for it.’

Along with the creation of a downtown shuttle route, a transportation fee would also be used for the operation, improvements and purchase of new buses.

However, not everyone was pleased with the discussion.

Senior Holly Eicher, an off-campus student who routinely has a hard time finding a parking spot, was hoping for more discussion on actual parking spaces rather than the improvements of lots.

‘Parking pisses me off and it’s very frustrating,’ she said. ‘Something, anything needs to be changed. The way it is now is just horrible.’

And though they cannot personally attend to every single parking issue on campus, both Wiegand and Enriquez promised to do everything possible to make students content with the parking offered.

‘We never ignore a parking issue and we do discuss them in our parking committees,’ Wiegand said. ‘We try to do the very best we can with the budget we have.’

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