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‘Miami Makeover’ turns into parking takeover

For The Miami Student

Published: Friday, November 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013 01:11

It is survival of the fittest, the fastest, the most efficient, and often the luckiest when it comes to nabbing a convenient parking spot on Miami University’s campus.

Include the addition of a few construction vehicles and the numerous workers required to help with the “Miami Makeover” and the faculty, staff and students find themselves in the midst of a parking takeover.

“Parking has been a nightmare, it’s kind of disappeared,” English professor Joseph Squance said.

According to George MacDonald, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, faculty are overwhelmingly affected by the lack of parking due to construction.

Miami’s 20-year plan for building and renovating campus, coined the “Miami Makeover”, includes four new residence halls, two new food service facilities, the Armstrong Student Center, Maplestreet Station and Etheridge Hall.

The Armstrong Student Center demolished the Gaskill Hall parking lot, removing approximately 75 faculty spaces, Lt. Ben Spilman, director of parking and transportation services, said.

Another 220 spots were eradicated by Maplestreet Station and Etheridge Hall, MacDonald said, but to compensate, Spilman said several spots were added to the eastern part of the Center for Performing Arts lot.

Construction of three of the four new residence halls and a new dining facility located on Western Campus has closed Western Drive until July 2014, according to the Physical Facilities Department.

MacDonald said parking at Bachelor Hall, formerly accessed by Western Drive, has been affected by the construction on Western, but there are ample spots available if drivers follow the detour.

Spilman acknowledged that a detour is not convenient, and said there is no incentive for faculty to look for anything other than proximal parking.

Squance, whose office is in Bachelor but teaches in Culler Hall, said he tries to park close to Bachelor but sometimes has to travel through Western and its construction. There is no clear walking path through the area, he said.

“In general, it’s an added pressure, added stress, and a big challenge just to get to class, just to do my job,” Squance said.

MacDonald, who has handled faculty complaints about parking, said Parking and Transportation Services empathizes with the professors and staff.

“We feel their pain,” he said, “if I’m in the Campus Avenue Building and I leave my spot, I’m probably not finding it when I come back.”

One thing they have done is try to provide an efficient busing system, and to enhance Miami’s already walkable campus, according to Landscape Architect, Vincent Cirrito. He holds the Campus Master Plan, which lays the foundation for how spaces on campus are to be utilized and includes information about on-campus transportation.

Within the next two years, Cirrito said, Miami plans to distribute parking. Until then, pedestrian safety and mobility are the Physical Facilities Department’s number one priority.

“What’s interesting about parking on campus is that we have a really good walking campus and a city around us that is a really good walking city,” Cirrito said.

Walking is not possible for all Miami faculty and construction poses a potential problem to the handicapped. Andrew Zeisler, director of the Office of Disabilities, said his office works closely with the Physical Facilities Department and Parking and Transportation Services to ensure the university has the proper ratio of handicap spaces. He has been impressed with their efforts to provide disabled parking in central locations during construction.

According to Spilman, construction added several handicap spots to Bishop Circle to accommodate those who need closer parking.

However accommodating the university tries to be, it cannot please everyone. Students affected by the loss of parking due to construction have a lot to say on the subject.

According to sophomore Taylor Groeschen, construction has caused a shift in parking availability, resulting in student spots being encroached upon in Ditmer and Millet.

“The spots for students are really inconvenient,” Groeschen said.

There is nowhere else to park on campus and if you park illegally, even for a few minutes, Miami University Police will stick you with a hefty fine, Groeschen said.

“I was gone for literally two minutes,” she said about the $75 ticket she received when trying to unload her car after switching dorms during the semester.

According to Spilman, construction workers park in Ditmer and Millet to alleviate congestion in the center of campus, but students who park in Ditmer or Millet must compete with them to find an open space.

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