College to allot spare parking spaces to students

The College has announced that 49 spaces in the recently-completed parking garage near the Greylock Quad will be allocated toward student use this semester.

The announcement placates the throngs of students who had voiced displeasure at the College’s earlier decree that barred all students from the complex.

Provost Cappy Hill indicated, however, that future building projects such as the new student center and the proposed Stetson/Sawyer renovations would restrict use of the parking garage to members of the faculty and staff as well as to construction workers effective in the fall.

Moreover, Hill suggested that the work on Stetson and Sawyer could necessitate the construction of yet another parking complex in the vicinity of that future work site. Hill insisted that any previously issued, seemingly duplicitous explanations regarding the initial decision to bar students from the parking garage were the result of complications in the construction cycles of these projects.

“What changed was the timing of the construction,” Hill said. “Which meant that the short-term construction needs changed from levels we originally thought we would need at this point. . .If things had been on schedule, there wouldn’t be any room for student parking this spring.”

Previous explanations contended that student use of the parking lot was to be restricted because of concerns that it would be impossible to move students’ vehicles on performance nights at the College’s three theater complexes, which it claimed would be necessitated by demand from off-campus theatergoers.

Eric Beattie, director of facilities, planning and construction, articulated the College’s initial party line on the matter to the Record in the Jan. 14 issue: “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?”

However, the College reexamined the issue of student use of the garage following a news analysis that ran in the Jan. 28 issue of the Record which indicated that according to town regulations there should be 67 spaces available to students at all times, even on nights when performances were held at all three theaters.

The plan submitted by the College that received approval from the Town Planning Board actually reserves a total of 109 spaces for student use.

That number, however, gets reduced to 49 because of the ongoing construction projects on campus. This spring, the College is devoting 60 garage spaces for use by construction workers; however, in the fall, all 109 spaces will be designated as construction worker-parking, and no spaces will be allocated for student use.

Recouping the parking spaces is in part due to the loss of 20-30 parking spaces following the demolition of the lot that currently exists between Baxter and Sage Hall when construction of the new student center begins. Other lots near the center of campus may be expunged as the College commits itself to its stated goal of lessening traffic congestion on campus.

“We do want to move student parking to the periphery of the campus, as a general policy, to reduce the use of cars on campus,” Hill said.

As for any ex-post facto regrets that students might have that the complex isn’t any larger than it is – which would make it capable, theoretically, of providing spaces for student use in spite of any construction projects on campus – Hill suggested that such an option had been weighed and dismissed in the planning phase of the project.

“We could have built a four story parking garage and protected student parking both during the construction phase and after completion,” she said. 

“We decided that the structure was large enough already, and [we] didn’t want to add either a bigger footprint or a fourth story.”

Pressure from the Town not to make the parking garage superfluously expansive further complicated any efforts on the part of the College to construct a larger facility.

Allocations for the 49 student spaces are being handled by Dave Boyer, director of Security, and the Safety Committee in consultation with College Council.