BY JESSICA BLACKBURN | October 21, 2016
PHOTO BY YASIR ALHUMAIDEN
On a Wednesday morning the Edgewood College ramp and parking lots are packed as tightly as Macy’s on Black Friday.
Desperate students circle the rows of cars in hopes someone will leave campus in time to make their 11 a.m. class. With clammy hands gripping the wheel, one student makes another left turn to check the last row—the hope of finding a parking spot dies with every minute. As expected, the last row is full, so he exits the lot and tries the ramp again.
But the odds are against him.
Edgewood College has oversold its parking capacity by 100 percent, according to Edgewood College records.
Edgewood College has 550 parking spots, including visitor and handicap parking spaces, President Scott Flanagan’s reserved stall, Sienna Hall’s private lot, special event guest parking, parking for institutional vehicles, and spaces reserved for temporary construction. So far, the college has sold 1,134 permits.
Tony Chambers, dean of students, said most campuses across the country have this problem. “The logic behind it is everybody is not going to be on campus at the same time, and we want to maximize usage of space that we have,” he said.
According to Chambers, it makes sense to sell more permits than there are spots available because there is a turnover of three to five times on a stall in a day, as estimated by Director of Security Mike Metcalf. But this does not always hold true. Not every student leaves campus right after class.
“This semester, parking is more of a struggle than ever,” said Lisa Kaudasch, a senior majoring in computer science. “I have class at 11 a.m. every day and find myself parking on the street up by Dominican at least twice a week after having circled all the lots. That is frustrating because I paid a lot of money for the convenience of parking, and I can’t even park here half the time.”
Depending on their class time and the day, not all students find parking difficult. Holly Duppler, a transfer student, said, “My only complaint is the price.”
Many commuter students are in agreement with this complaint since the price to park is so high and getting a spot is not guaranteed. A full-time student pays $268 a year to park, and a part-time student taking at least seven credits pays $111 for a permit. Full-time staff permits cost $335, and part-time staff permits cost $73.
Edgewood does give the option to purchase day passes. Passes on Monday and Wednesday cost $10. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday passes cost $5. But day passes are not a better deal if the student needs to park on campus several days a week.
The day passes are targeted toward faculty and staff and are beneficial for students who don’t normally have a car on campus but may need one to get to an appointment. This helps the students if they don’t want to park their car on the street or leave it at a lot. The shuttle program distributes three free day passes each semester to active participants.
If the price to park regularly on campus is too high, Edgewood has a shuttle program with two locations—Westwood Christian Church on Odana Road and AMC Theater on McKee Road. Students in the program can park at Edgewood for free Friday-Sunday with a special sticker to identify them as active participants in the shuttle program. From Westwood Church to Edgewood, the run time is approximately 10 minutes and 15-20 minutes from AMC Theater to Edgewood.
This system is supposed to be convenient for students, but Edgewood English Professor Jack Vitek argued, “There is almost always parking a few blocks away if you can’t find a spot on campus. With the shuttle, you could end up wasting a lot of extra time when you could park near the campus and walk about five or ten minutes to get to class.”
Although it doesn’t quite save the advertised $1,000, the WKOW off-campus storage lot is a good deal for upperclassmen who want to have a car in Madison to go home or who don’t need the car on a regular basis. The lot has 50 spaces available and is located across from the West Transfer Point on Tokay Boulevard. It saves the students money and earns them incentives like a $100 gift card to the bookstore, a free bus pass, and four vouchers for Green Cab, if they are regularly participating in the program. According to Metcalf, the lot is monitored with security cameras and is fairly secure.
“Edgewood is adding more dorms and students, but parking has not been growing proportionally,” Kaudasch said, “We need another ramp. I get that the transportation services are trying to come up with more alternatives and incentives for other ways of commuting, but the other options are so much less convenient and just aren’t worth it for me.”
Edgewood does not currently have any plans to build up the parking ramp. The college would need city approval, and several years ago neighbors were against the ramp being built higher. Metcalf said he is not sure if most neighbors would still disagree: “It would cost several million dollars to add onto or build a ramp.”
Metcalf said he believes money could be spent for a new wellness center or a new music hall.
Structurally the ramp could be built up one more level and open up an estimated 60-70 more stalls, but the cost of each stall is roughly between $15,000-$20,000. “Since there is a limited amount of money where do you invest? In a new music hall, into a gym or wellness center? Or the parking ramp?” said Metcalf.
Pre-med student and senior Edgar Ocotl said, “I personally believe it would be best if they invested in the parking ramp because it could pay for itself with the new spaces that would be available, as opposed to investing in something that targets student recreation.”
Not all students, like commuter students, spend a lot of time on campus and would find another ramp or another level to the current ramp more beneficial than student recreational facilities.
It is unlikely that Edgewood will be building up the parking ramp in the near future. Metcalf stated, “We’ve done a lot over the years to try to alleviate the parking problems, and hopefully some of the things that we’ve done this year will help, like having the off-campus lot and shuttle program. We shuttle anywhere from 75 to over 100 faculty, staff, and students a day using the two shuttle locations that we have.”
Parking is especially difficult the first few weeks of school before permits are required. Anyone and everyone can park on campus during that time. Metcalf said he would like to see it cut back in the future. He believes giving people a two-week grace period is too long because people take advantage of the lot and ramp convenience without intending to buy a permit.
“Students need to have time to get a permit,” he said. “There are graduate students and commuter students who might not have classes that first week, and if their first class is on a Thursday after the campus starts ticketing, that student would get a ticket if they hadn’t been on campus yet to buy one.”
He would still like to see that period cut back because he said the extended time leads to procrastination and frustration.
It may come as a surprise to some students and faculty, but overnight parking in the DeRicci or Regina lots will earn a ticket regardless of whether or not the car has a permit displayed. This is mainly for the convenience of the snow plow during the winter months.
Metcalf said, “If residents were allowed to park overnight, they would park in the DeRicci and Regina lots to park closer to their dorms, and those cars would basically never move. Without this rule, the ramp would be the only place commuters and visitors could park because every surface lot stall would be full in the morning.”