Town, College bar student cars from new Greylock parking garage

The College has rejected College Council’s (CC) request to allow student parking in the newly-completed garage, killing any hope of a favorable resolution for students. CC had asked that students, particularly in the Greylock Quad and surrounding area, would be able to park in the garage while the ’62 Center for the Performing Arts is under construction.

The Greylock parking garage construction drew to a close last December, behind its predicted end of November date. Heavy rainfall prevented construction from proceeding efficiently, as workers spent valuable time trying to thwart the floods. The completed garage creates space for theater patrons who now attend AMT performances and will attend performances in the new theater.

But theater-goers’ intermittent use of the garage leaves the lot unoccupied much of the time, and students hoped they would be able to utilize the available space. Last year’s construction project had unpleasant repercussions on student life in Greylock Quad, and CC expected the College to use the parking garage to offer a silver lining to that situation.

“During and after the upcoming theater construction, there will be even fewer parking spaces than the little there are now,” said CC co-President Mark Rosenthal ’03. “Not only has a lot of parking been sacrificed by the theater project, but also, traditionally the best pick in housing, Bascom, was taken away without any student consideration. That led to this year’s housing crunch which left many students in doubles with people they didn’t know and Mission residents having to abandon and clear out their common rooms to accommodate returning students.

This is a rare instance of the administration not being fully committed to accommodating the students.” [Ultimately, the College did not need to use any Mission common rooms, but has instead found housing for returning students by using stopgap measures such as allowing juniors to live off campus and in the Gladden faculty apartment.]

But since the College has decided that the principle use of the garage should be for patrons commuting from town, any student parking in the garage is infeasible. “The problem we faced with letting students use the garage is it would be impossible to get them all to move their cars when these performances take place – how would Security contact everyone, how could we be assured everyone would cooperate, where would the cars be moved to?” said Eric Beattie, director of Facilities Planning and Construction. “For that reason we built replacement student parking at Thompson dorm to replace the student spaces lost in the Greylock Lot.”

These spaces are on the periphery of campus, corresponding with the College’s aim of reducing car travel within campus. [This goal was reached with the help of students in the planning process.]

The College plans to use the extra space for faculty/staff parking and construction vehicle parking. The construction of the new theater and new student center means that construction vehicles will be using the garage. Their parking hours and those of faculty/staff generally fall between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so the garage would be emptied in time for theater performances. Also, in the future there will be an increased need for faculty parking.

“When the Student Center project starts, two lots adjacent to Baxter will be closed down permanently, and those faculty/staff spaces will be assigned to the garage,” Beattie said . “In the longer range, some additional parking in the center of campus is likely to be eliminated, again to promote a more pedestrian campus. As a result more faculty/staff parking will be shifted to the garage.”

Despite the hardship students have endured because of the garage’s construction, the College’s decision on the primary purposes of the garage, its goal to decrease intracampus travel and the upcoming construction project indicate that the student parking crisis will continue to be an issue in the foreseeable future.