Top floor of residential lot allocated to help parking issues

To alleviate the pressure on high-demand parking areas during peak times, the top level of the Jim Miller Parking Structure near the residence halls was designated Sept. 11 for commuter students and faculty, said Sheryl Boyd, the assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services.

The reallocation for overflow parking could take away as many as 75 spots from residents during its allotted hours (Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.) Although the additional parking is designated for commuters during these times, it is not being used as much as parking and transportation services thought it would be because it’s “too far away,” Boyd said.

“So far, we average less than 10 students using it, which is the same with the Villa Park Orchards lot for overflow. We’re averaging at less than 10 people who are taking advantage of that,” she said. “You can look on the cameras, you can go to physical counts. They’re not using it.”

Laurel Speck, a junior television writing and production major, said that she hasn’t used the new overflow parking, and that she doesn’t think it will make a significant difference for most other commuter students.

“I would rather sit in Lastinger (Parking Structure) and wait to find someone who is leaving than drive all the way to the dorms, park at the top and walk back to main campus,” Speck said.

The Panther created a time-lapse video to see how quickly the Lastinger Parking Structure filled up Sept. 6. By 9:42 a.m., the structure was full. Boyd believes that this was due to a higher demand for parking during the first two weeks of class.

“It’s the same thing that we experience at the beginning of every semester. We’ve seen the demand decrease since then,” she said.

As the first few weeks of the school year conclude, students like Speck and sophomore business administration major Pooja Sudhalkar said that they have not seen any improvement in parking availability.

“It’s ridiculous at this point, honestly,” Sudhalkar said. “I know it’s supposed to have gotten better by now, but it hasn’t.”

Though Sudhalkar believes the parking demand hasn’t decreased, Boyd said she has noticed a decrease.

“The Cypress lot hasn’t filled in the past two weeks. It filled the first two weeks of school, and it’s not filling now,” she said. “So students are finding parking in the existing lots, just as we said they would.”

The top floor of the Jim Miller Parking Structure, which is usually restricted to students who have residential parking permits, has been opened to commuter students and staff during certain hours in order to alleviate parking overflow. Photo by Jackie Cohen

Still, Sudhalkar is skeptical of how efficient using the newly allocated Jim Miller parking will be for commuter students.

“I feel like it would take me longer to get from the top floor of Jim Miller to campus than it would to just park in Dodge or wait for someone in Lastinger to leave,” she said.

Freshman biochemistry and molecular biology major Hana Neutz said parking at the dorms isn’t always easy, but she hasn’t noticed a difference since the spots were reallocated for commuters Sept. 11.

“The first few weeks, it took a long time to find parking in Jim Miller, but now, there just seem to be more free spaces underneath Pralle-Sodaro Hall,” she said. “I still usually do have to go to the third or fourth floor of Jim Miller to find parking. I’ve never had to go to the top floor, though.”

Parking Services has been monitoring lot use since the start of the fall semester, Boyd said, and she is still confident in seeing the difficulty in parking ease in the next few weeks.

“We obviously have equipment in place so we can monitor this, we have officers that drive and do counts, and that’s why we provide parking maps color-coded to all students so they know that Lastinger and Barrera are not their only parking options,” she said.

The 75 parking spots in Jim Miller will be available for the remainder of the academic school year, until construction for the new Center for Science and Technology concludes, which will add about 300 parking spots, Boyd said.

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