U looks for extra money from personal parking spaces

Tricia Michel

For an extra monthly contract fee, University Parking and Transportation Services will assign faculty and staff individual parking spaces.

The program, which begins Wednesday in the Washington Avenue Ramp, is an effort to bring in extra parking revenue. Critics, however, said it could send the wrong message to employees who cannot afford the perk.

After this year’s budget cuts, the department looked at ways to bring in more money, Parking and Transportation Services marketing director Lori Ann Vicich said. The department expects to earn up to $60,000 from the one-year trial.

“We’re trying to find a way to absorb a poor economy. Sixty thousand dollars a year saves a position,” Vicich said.

For an additional $10 per month, faculty and staff will be able to reserve one of 500 available spaces on a first-come, first-served basis.

Currently, parking contracts cost $56.25 per month for surface lots, $84.50 per month for ramps and $110 per month for garages.

The Washington Avenue Ramp is the first ramp with assigned spaces. Others might be added throughout the month.

University mechanical engineer Patrick Nelson said he is concerned the program will reinforce class divisions between faculty and staff.

He said most staff can not afford the fee, especially with proposed wage freezes and health care premium increases.

Nelson said he has not formally complained to the University, but some people have.

Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Laurie Scheich said employees have raised concerns, but most have been because of misunderstandings.

The changes will not limit the number of spaces available, Vicich said. Demand for parking has gone down at the University because of added on-campus housing, the recently completed East River Road Garage and the increased popularity of the U-Pass bus program.

Vicich said employees have requested an assigned parking program for years and are happy with the program’s cost. So far, more than 250 spaces have been assigned.

If this program is successful, students could have the opportunity to purchase assigned parking in the future, Vicich said.