By Acadia Otlowski
Students who normally park in the Student Center garage and parking lot are in for continued parking woes due CCSU’s newest construction project that has closed over 100 parking spots.
According to a statement by Richard Bachoo, chief administrative officer, these lots will be blocked off for the next two years in order to create both a buffer zone for the construction sight and an area for parking construction vehicles.
“Due to the delivery of large construction materials, the University will be creating a construction entry point off of Ella Grasso Blvd. to reduce the commingling of the university’s general operation[s] and the construction project,” said Bachoo in the statement.
Bachoo believes that the reduction of parking spaces in the Student Center lot will not heavily impact the student population’s ability to park. Students may have to park elsewhere due to the the reduction.
“The university has about 6000 parking spaces. That being said, even with full enrollment, we still have excess space,” says Bachoo. “Are you saying there’s not enough parking, or are you saying you can’t park where you want? Those are two different things.”
Bachoo emphasizes that students have many opportunities to park. Students are able to park in 5,557 parking spaces that are designated “public,” available to anyone at the university who has a parking sticker.
“Fifteen years ago when I arrived it was a situation at the university, it really was. [We spent] close to over 18 million dollars improving parking on the campus,” said Bachoo, who noted most of that money went into the construction of Welte Garage, which provides students with 1,000 additional parking spaces.
Bachoo also noted that certain garages have excess space most of the time.
“We are extremely liberal with parking compared to other universities. We have plenty of parking. Even with the reduction, it is still rare that Copernicus garage is filled. In fact, the top of Copernicus garage rarely has any cars on it,” says Bachoo, who mentions speaking with a commuter student in his office: he notes that, in her experience, Copernicus Garage is never completely full.
Students will be dealing with these parking circumstances for the next two years, and according to Bachoo, “It‘s only a temporary reduction… Not all of that parking will be restored, but some of it will be.”
The size of the new dormitory, its entrances, and its exits will take up some of the spots that currently exist. Bachoo believes that the lack of an additional parking lot for the new residence hall will not affect parking enormously.
“Remember 300 of the residents will be existing students, so there’s still plenty of parking,” says Bachoo, who explains that 300 residents of the 600 bed dormitory would be transfers from older residence halls that will be taken offline for renovations.
There is one problem with parking that Bachoo noted: non-student events that draw crowds from off-campus. This includes conferences and other high-volume events held on campus.
“Part of the problem this Monday, when we had this really cramped situation, was they had this event where they invited 300 off-campus guests. Off-campus guests need to go park in other places. They need to park in Kaiser Lot or they need to park in Copernicus Garage. Especially large events like that. I’ve instructed to the events management people that our students are the priority for parking, not all these off-campus people. If they can, those events need to be on days where we do not have a large group, sort of like Fridays or, if they are having it, they need to park them somewhere else. The students have the first priority for parking.”
Despite assurances by the administration, students had some very negative experiences during the first week of classes.
“The top floor of the Student Center parking lot is usually always available, but one day last week it was completely full by 9a.m.,” said Joshua Russo, a student.
“[I] got to school at 10 a.m. so I had enough time to find a parking spot in Welte. My class started at 10:50 a.m. and I found a parking spot at 10:49 a.m.,” said Natalie Ruela, who was almost late for her class due to the cramped parking conditions.
Some students are aware of the reasons behind current parking complications. Others are not.
“Parking is terrible because we are losing at least 150 plus spots for the construction of the new residence hall. I think that campus needs to find a better place to park the construction vehicles,” said Mel Mulcahy, a student.
Students were forced to drive through multiple lots and garages to find parking in the last week.
“How about its a nightmare? [It] takes me thirty minutes to find parking. Who’s got that kind of time to waste? Unbelievable. They need to do this construction nonsense on the weekends or something,” said Hazmira Udovcic.
Other students had a similar experience.
“I had to go through three garages to find a parking spot this past week. It took me a half hour to find a spot and it made me late to class. It seems if you don’t have an early class and park by 7:30 a.m. it’s hard to find spaces,” said Taylor Gilleran, student.
Students who feel that the school is mainly for commuters are frustrated at the inconvenience the construction is causing.
“I just feel they should be building a new parking lot and not a new dormitory,” said Aundrea Shaker, a commuter student.
Bachoo says that there will be improvements to the parking situation, including car counters in Welte Garage, which will alert students to a lot that is full so they do not waste their time circling up and down the five levels of the building.
Additional improvements to parking will come in the next few years. According to Bachoo, Copernicus Garage is out-of-date and will need to be torn down and renovated.