Off-peak free parking offered for students

Kelly Hildebrandt

After a year of working with Parking and Transportation Services, the Council of Graduate Students has procured a number of parking improvements.
One of the major improvements includes free evening and Sunday parking for all students, which will go into effect July 1.
Although the changes were geared toward graduate students, undergraduates will also reap the benefits.
COGS began working with parking services fall quarter when they created a committee to meet with Bob Baker, Parking and Transportation Services director. The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly also worked with the Board of Regents throughout the year to create changes.
“People thought they couldn’t afford a lot of the options that exist,” said Barbara Van Drasek, executive vice president of COGS. She said two of their major concerns were cost and safety.
A lot of graduate students work until the wee hours of the morning, Van Drasek said. Although the parking facilities themselves are safe, getting to them is not.
Free evening parking will allow graduate students to park closer to their offices at night when they work late.
A number of other changes were also approved.
Graduate students who receive contract parking fall quarter will have the option of automatically renewing the contract for the whole year, Baker said. Now, like all students, they enter a lottery each quarter.
Also, many changes were made that benefit undergraduates as well. The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum Parking Ramp hours will be extended from 10 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday, and event rates will no longer be charged, Baker said. The Oak Street Ramp hours will also be extended.
Additionally, contract parking on the St. Paul campus will be reduced by three dollars to $20 per month. This reduction is extended to all students.
“Bob Baker is taking a kind of risk on our behalf,” Van Drasek said. “People really need to use these contracts to let him keep these rates low.”
Finally, students will be able to park in ramps between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. This includes the Fourth Street Parking Ramp, West Bank Ramp on 21st Avenue, Washington Avenue Ramp, Oak Street Ramp, 19th Avenue Parking Ramp and the Gortner Avenue Ramp in St. Paul, which is expected to be finished the fall of 2000. This isn’t applicable during events.
Sunday parking will also be free in all the ramps except the Washington Avenue Ramp, although it too will not be applicable during events.
“I think this will be real positive for students,” Baker said. “It should make life easier for them.”
Van Drasek said they formed the committee with the intention of working with Baker to find solutions to the ongoing parking problems instead of just unloading problems.
“(Baker) has really borne the brunt of everything being his fault,” Van Drasek said. “What I’m pleased about is his willingness to really accommodate our needs.”
During the year, GAPSA’s Board of Regents representatives have continually brought up the parking issue at meetings, said Ben Solomon, the new assembly president.
Although GAPSA didn’t have a direct influence on the changes, they helped the administration to take notice of the problem.
Solomon said Baker got pressure from both students and administration to make the changes.
For a long time the standard cure for parking has been to bike or take the bus, Solomon said.
“Maybe we should but we’re not,” he said.