Paid parking proposal to be re-examined Faculty, professional-staff members voice opposition to plan developed by task force

News Services Associate Editor

A proposal to relocate most of the North Campus' paid/visitor parking spaces from the Fronczak lot to the Slee lots and require visitors to campus to pay for parking at night and on weekends will be re-examined in light of almost unanimous opposition to it voiced by faculty and professional-staff members.

Clifford Wilson, associate vice president for student affairs who oversees campus parking, said on Monday that the proposal will be returned to its originator-the Special Event Task Force-which will "have to rethink the plan with the feedback (generated by various campus constituencies) in mind. It hasn't been greeted with open arms."

The proposal, which the task force had hoped to implement for the Fall 1998 semester, was designed to "maximize parking accommodations at the east end of the North Campus toward better serving all members of the university community and creating a welcoming environment for visitors," according to Carmela Thompson, director of campus parking and transportation services and co-chair of the task force.

The plan would convert the Slee A and Slee B parking lots on the east end of the academic spine to paid lots to accommodate both visitors to campus and UB faculty, staff and students who use the university's preferred parking program.

It would return the Center for Tomorrow lot to a free overflow lot with shuttle service.

Under the plan, the number of paid/visitor parking spaces in the Fronczak lot on the west end of campus would be reduced from 618 to 165. The remaining spaces-approximately 450-would be used as open parking for faculty, staff and students.

Wilson pointed out that transferring some paid parking slots from Fronczak to the Slee lots will not take any spots off-line. "We would simply shift them from one end of campus to the other," he said.

In addition, the lot adjacent to UB Stadium that is used for parking during football games would become a permanent overflow and visitor parking lot, with 200-300 spaces.

Visitors attending special events on campus after 3 p.m. and on weekends would be assessed a $2 parking fee under the plan. The fee would reduce the cost to departments for reserving parking, create a guaranteed revenue source to offset staffing and support the construction of new lots and maintenance of existing lots, and achieve greater consistency in fee schedules and related policies, according to the task-force recommendations.

Wilson said that both Thomas Burrows, director of the Center for the Arts, and Nelson Townsend, director of athletics, support the $2 parking fee.

With the plan, UB is trying "to accommodate people on the east end of campus and deal with the special-event problem at night," Wilson said. "Our goal here is not to make life any worse for anybody, but to try to deal with a real need, without taking any spots off-line."

The task force's recommendations, which have been circulating among various campus constituencies for several months, have generated solid opposition across campus.

"We've had universal 'We hate the idea for lots of reasons,'" Wilson told the Professional Staff Senate Executive Committee at its March 26 meeting.

Madison Boyce, director of student judicial affairs and university ombudsman, told committee members that there were "some rather strong opinions" on the subject on the PSS listserv. "To some people, it looks as though it's (charging visitors for parking at nights and on weekends) another slap at the public."

Boyce said he has heard that the Center for the Arts is having difficulty attracting patrons for arts events. "I guess I find it surprising that adding a 'Come see us, but pay for your parking' is seen by those folks (at the Center for the Arts) as the answer."

Peter Nickerson, chair of the Faculty Senate, has said that members of the Faculty Senate, discussing the topic on the senate's listserv, also are opposed to the proposal, citing in particular the move to shift paid parking slots from the Fronczak lot to the Slee lots.

Susan Pearles, internship coordinator of Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Degree Programs, told committee members she had talked with a number of professional staff, "and I don't know anybody who supports this."

Pearles cited a number of reasons staff oppose the recommendations:

- Staff who use their cars several times during the day fear they may not be able to find a parking spot in the middle of the day if the number of paid slots in the Fronczak lot is reduced

- The appearance of UB being less than user-friendly to the community if it charges for parking for special events

- The fear that fewer open parking spots in the Slee lots- "which are full by quarter to nine every morning"- will force many staff "to park at the other end of the world. I'm guessing that the people who are going to end up at the other end of the world probably are going to be students."

- The inconvenience of having to park in overflow lots while carrying cellos, keyboards and bassoons to Baird and Slee halls

Staff members "understand the attempts to try to be more user-friendly for visitors, but they also felt that, 'yes, let's support visitors, but our first concern should be the people who use this campus every day,'" Pearles said.

Wilson noted at the meeting that Pearles' comments "match all the cards and letters we're getting. Thank you for verbalizing it," he joked.

He said that any alternatives to the parking recommendations suggested by the Special Event Task Force again will be circulated among members of the university community.

He added that UB must negotiate any changes in parking with the campus bargaining units.

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