Additional academic buildings overtake convenient parking


    As the university faces the problem of growing into a centralized, appealing campus while maintaining the convenience of parking for students and faculty, parking is usually sacrificed for the former goal.

    Brian Gutierrez, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the university focuses on the well-being of campus as a whole rather than striving to maintain optimum convenience for commuters.

    “We’ll sacrifice on parking but not the aesthetics of the buildings we build or their locations and their functionalities for students and faculty,” Gutierrez said.

    One example is the Mary Wright Admission Center, which was built on an existing commuter parking lot.

    The purpose of the building, which opened in August 2010, is to receive families with prospective students who consider attending the university, Gutierrez said.

    The university acknowledged the inconvenience associated with relocating students and faculty to other parking areas, but Gutierrez said the location of the admissions building is vital to its goal.

    “The foresight and planning of the chancellor to select that location was very insightful because that’s going to help to make the very first oncampus experience for any prospective student or family a positive experience,” he said.

    The university worked to add other parking spaces near the admissions building to minimize the impact of the relocation, resulting in a net loss of 50 parking spots in the area, Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. said in an email.

    Parking in other areas of campus has also been impacted by construction of new buildings.
    The building under construction behind Beasley Hall is occupying land previously used for parking. The Harrison Building, which will be used by the Brite Divinity School, has caused a total loss of 127 spaces in the area, Boschini said.

    Some students say parking on the east side of campus is a problem and the university should do a better job increasing the number of parking spaces.

    Alex Taube, a senior business information systems and marketing double major who lives near Steve and Sarah Smith Entrepreneurs Hall, said the elimination of parking for new buildings impacts him even though he usually walks to class.

    “I understand the school trying to expand and all that, but they have to understand that they’re going to have a lot of commuter students as well,” Taube said. “It is an issue when they take down parking to add more buildings.”

    Stefanie Orrange, a junior strategic communication major who drives to class everyday, said it can be a pain to find a parking spot near class buildings.

    “Some days I get a parking spot pretty easily, but I’ve been late to class quite a few times this year because of parking,” Orrange said.

    The university is currently working to increase the number of parking spaces on the east side of campus.

    A parking lot near the Neeley School of Business is currently being planned and will be located on the block surrounded by West Lowden Street, Merida Avenue, West Cantey Street and Lubbock Avenue, Boschini said.

    Work on the 395-space lot is set to begin this semester and should be completed by the spring, he wrote in an email.

    Orrange said she thought the new lot could potentially alleviate the parking issue on that side of campus.

    The construction of the Amon G. Carter Stadium has also temporarily reduced the number of usable spaces on campus. The football stadium has taken approximately 1,100 parking spaces, but those will return to the overall inventory when the project is completed in July 2012.

    Despite spaces lost during ongoing construction around campus, 136 parking spots were added to the total inventory between May 2010 and May 2011, Boschini said.

    There are approximately 8,900 parking spots on campus and only 8,600 permits have been issued, but Gutierrez said the total number of spaces was not necessarily the problem. 

    “There are plenty of spaces,” Gutierrez said. “It’s just that people would prefer some of the spaces maybe to be in different locations according to their typical routine.”

    The shuttle service that runs on campus is one way to make better use of inconvenient parking spots, and Gutierrez said the shuttles have increased routing frequency over the years.

    The university just bought licensing for technology that will allow students to track the shuttles by GPS. The technology will probably be implemented by the spring semester, Gutierrez said.

    Some students said they believe a parking garage could be a better solution to the problem.
    Taube said it would alleviate much of the parking issue, depending on its location on campus, because it is tough to find a place to park legally.

    “It just seems like there are never enough spots and there’s always an issue with parking,” Taube said.

    The university is not opposed to the parking garage proposition, Boschini said.

    Gutierrez said TCU is waiting to decide on a garage because of new development and building opportunities, and the university will probably not take that step until the parking statistics change.

    “You don’t want to rush into [a parking garage] as long as you have a total number of parking spaces that exceeds the total number of parking permits that you’ve issued,” he said.
    Despite her constant issue with parking, Orrange said she understands that it is not just a problem on TCU’s campus.

    “I love TCU,” she said. “I love going to school here. I feel like they do a really good job, but parking is an issue at pretty much any school and it’s a difficult situation. Everyone wants to have the convenience [of nearby parking].”