Parking Task Force
A coalition of faculty, staff, administrators and students have been working together to propose partial solutions to our parking crunch. In consultation with the college’s Cabinet (administrators/leadership group), the task force has moved forward with a variety of measures to ease the burden on our existing main campus parking lots.
As you may know, for the first month of classes in the fall 2009 semester, we had up to 200 cars parked on the grass, and illegally in non-marked spaces in the parking lots, due to lack of space on the Valhalla campus. This semester, due to a slightly lower number of students (typical for spring), we still have students parking on the grass, but in lower numbers. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is crowded but there are still spaces left in the Tech Building Lot #11, which is typically the last lot to be filled. This summer should
be fine, but this fall, when the registration numbers could peak again, we may have hundreds of cars parked on the grass on peak days. Then, when the new Gateway Center gets going in full swing, we could conceivably have 400 cars parked on the grass on peak days (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
As noted, the current situation can be dangerous and a poor example of customer service, and certainly is environmentally unsound. The Tech Building Lot can be especially dangerous when two lanes of traffic are limited to one lane because students park illegally.
Having attended a webinar on the subject of parking, and having spent a semester researching the subject along with the rest of the committee, our task force is moving ahead with some of its proposals. Since a new multi-level parking lot is years away, we are going to continue to pursue several other options in the meantime.
Solutions and Options
- The college is instituting a rideshare program later this year. Primarily directed at students, but possibly extended to faculty and staff, the Zimride program allows for peer-to-peer interaction. Thus students will be able to connect with one another in order to share rides. Purchase College and other institutions use this rideshare program.
- The task force is requesting that off-campus visitors be invited to the campus on off-peak days such as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Preferably Fridays. It is understood that there will be instances where individuals and groups will need to drive to campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but if flexibility is an option, please see if those days can be avoided.
- We are adding more early morning, late evening, and weekend classes to the academic schedule, are scheduling additional online classes, and will soon cut down on the number of Tuesday/Thursday classes in favor of more Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes. These changes will be gradual.
- We are considering a change in Common Hour to more easily allow for additional classes on non-peak days.
- We are consulting with the Westchester County Transportation Department about the possibility of adding more buses. Due to county budget issues, additional buses may not be an option, but we're making our case known.
- New parking spaces over grassy areas are not an option due to various land use restrictions. The Cabinet, Board of Trustees, and the Master Plan Committee are considering the addition of a parking garage over an existing lot or lots. However, such parking lots are expensive ($20,000 per space). Even if we were able to secure funding for such a project, which could reach $8 million or more, such a project would be years away from completion. Meanwhile, we will pursue whatever other options we can put into place
(rideshare program, etc.) before we have to make a decision on a new multi-level lot. Who knows, we could conceivably get by without a new parking structure if we shift classes around a bit and have a good rideshare program. It has been suggested that the more parking you provide, the more drivers will depend on these spaces and may not consider ridesharing, which is most cost effective for everyone and less detrimental to the environment. So we're going to try some of these options first.
- We investigated valet parking. This service, which helps take advantage of parking spaces with the use of an outside service, could cost $2,000 per week for a 200 space lot. Due to the cost, we are going to table this option for now.
- We looked into the possible restructuring of our existing lots. Apparently those spaces are the standard size and it would not be advisable to make these spaces smaller.
- We will continue to monitor options for faculty and staff. Although we are primarily concentrating on the student part of the equation, we do not want to neglect the issue of faculty/staff parking.
- We are looking into the price of a shuttle system and are investigating nearby off-campus parking options.
- Expanded flex-time or telecommute options are being considered.
- The task force suggested we continue to encourage extension location classes. Thankfully, we opened all these extensions several years ago and this is now allowing us to “spread the wealth.” Some Centers are at capacity and others are not. We may want to direct more students toward those areas perhaps by offering more of our high capacity classes in those locales.
Any questions or comments should be sent to Patrick.Hennessey at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Task Force members: Brian Dolansky, Adam Frank, Michael Priano, Sheldon Malev, Gina Pelliccio, Carol Ann Zavarella, Ed Kelly, Abre Chen, Pat Hennessey, Sarah Shelton (student).
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