Board of Trustees approves land purchase for new park and ride

The Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees approved the $1,249,000 purchase of 18 acres of land for a new commuter parking lot during its Friday meeting.

University Counsel Tom Butcher said the property is currently an unoccupied wooded area between Collindale and Maynard avenues off Lake Michigan Drive. Butcher said the land will be used for a new park and ride between the Pew and Allendale campuses.

“We’ve been watching and looking for a convenient place to establish a convenient park and ride that would allow faculty, staff and students to park there and go to either campus,” Butcher said.

He added that the new lots are necessary because GVSU commuters need more parking options. Currently, about 400 to 500 cars park near the Meijer in Standale, and another 100 park behind the Walker Fire Station. The new lots will be on the major Rapid bus route and will be part of the bus rapid transit project.

“It is our hope that we would build this out in phases as that develops,” Butcher said.

Mary Eilleen Lyon, associate vice president for University Communications, said tuition will not be increased to help pay for this. Instead, the money will come from the Campus Development Fund.

“We will be monitoring the progress of the Rapid’s Laker Line bus project that will run on Lake Michigan Drive between our Pew Grand Rapids Campus and the Allendale Campus,” Lyon said. “And we’ll see if we can receive federal funds to minimize our total costs of construction.”

Lisa Haynes, assistant vice president of Pew Campus Operations and Regional Centers, agreed that the new parking lots are necessary. Haynes said that even though there are two park and ride lots already, they are often so crowded that many students cannot find a spot.

“The purchase of the land is to help with providing alternatives to students that choose not to park on campus,” Haynes said. “We have been investigating the expansion of park and ride spaces due to the sheer demand of people utilizing this option. This was a proactive purchase to compliment the development of the Laker Line.”

She added that the Grand Valley Police Department will not be enforcing the new parking lots because they do not enforce the current park and ride areas.

Although they do not know exactly when construction will begin, Haynes said the project will most likely be completed in 2015.

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