Garage plans show 67 free parking spaces

Allocation plans for the Greylock Parking Complex indicate that, according to town regulations, 67 spaces in the complex will never be needed for patrons of the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance or the College’s faculty and staff. This finding reopens the question of why student vehicles are being permanently locked out of the structure by the College.

The controversial issue of student parking in the complex seemed settled by a Jan. 7 Daily Message from Security, which indicated that a College Council (CC) plan for temporary parking had been rejected by the College’s lawyers and town officials.

However, Peter Fohlin, Town Manager of Williamstown, said yesterday the College is free to use the space within its new Greylock parking facility as it sees fit with regard to designating spaces for student parking, placing the decision squarely with the College.

“The town has no policy with regard to College property,” Fohlin said, indicating that a decision permitting student-use of the new parking garage “is none of our business.”

These claims run contrary to the Daily Message from Security, which implicated unnamed “Town officials” in the College’s decision to bar students from the parking complex. The message came in response to a letter addressed to senior staff from CC requesting that students be allowed to use the parking garage during the spring semester, if not beyond.

“After consultation with Town officials and the College attorney, College Council’s request to allow student parking in the parking garage has been denied,” the message read. “There will be no student parking at any time in the garage.”

Documents from the town’s Inspections Services Department (ISD) obtained by the Record indicate, however, that the town gave the College permission to allocate as many as 109 spaces for student use during the academic year when it approved the College’s plans on Dec. 30, 2001.

After that permission was granted, how the College chose to divvy up the space within its new parking garage was entirely its own decision, said Mike Card, the Director of Inspections Services.

“From the town’s perspective, and its committees, students are allowed access to the parking lot,” Card said. “However, the College is authorized to choose to put the students some place else; that is an internal agreement and we don’t get into the College’s inner workings. If the College decides students can’t park there that’s the College’s prerogative.”

Card confirmed that the application for the development of the parking garage submitted by the College and approved by the town’s planning and zoning boards included spaces reserved for student use. The subsequent decision to bar students from the parking lot was made entirely by College officials, he said.

In the Record’s Jan. 14 issue, Eric Beattie, director of facilities, planning and construction, explained that decision: “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,” Beattie said at the time. “How would Security contact everyone, how could we be assured everyone would cooperate, where would the cars be moved to?”

When contacted yesterday, Jim Kolesar, director of Public Affairs, confirmed Beattie’s rationale. “We have to be able to guarantee that spaces are going to be available,” Kolesar said. “There would be no chance that we’d be able to get those cars out of there on performance nights.”

The ISD documents, however, appear to indicate that up to 67 spaces could be dedicated to student parking during the academic year without violating the agreement between the Town and College. These spaces would never need to be vacated for use by theater patrons.

The new Greylock Parking Complex allows for 234 total parking spaces. On a night during the academic year in which there were performances at all three proposed performance spaces – the Studio Theater, the Experimental Theater and the revamped Adams Memorial Theatre – a total of 167 parking spaces are required by zoning laws to satiate demand from outside theatergoers.

That number leaves 67 spaces unaccounted for by outside patrons on nights in which each performance space is in use, which could theoretically be devoted to full-time student use.

As for faculty and staff parking, Beattie confirmed the spaces reserved for theater patrons in the evening could simultaneously serve that function.

“The logical complementary use of the garage is faculty/staff parking,” Beattie said. “They mainly work 8-5, theater performances are for the most part in the evening.”

The agreement also expressly indicates that the space could serve this dual purpose: “Daytime performances on weekdays (infrequent) are attended primarily by college faculty, staff and students and do not require additional parking,” the agreement reads. “Performances with outside attendance are scheduled for evenings when faculty and staff parking spaces are available.”

College officials contacted yesterday said they would have to examine the numbers to determine if this reading is accurate. Dean Roseman indicated the College might be preventing students from parking in the garage in keeping with last year’s campus planning analysis, though she stressed she did not know enough about the details of the situation.

“The Denise Scott Brown study recommended that student parking be moved to the periphery of the campus and this would seem to be consistent with that finding,” Roseman said.

Don Dubendorf, the College’s lawyer dealing with the parking garage regulations, did not return repeated phone calls to his office yesterday afternoon seeking comment. The College said he will be made available in the coming week to discuss these findings.