Facing the parking problem

GVL/Sara Carte - Photo Illustration   
MacKenzi Krieger and Sean Truszkowski battle over a parking spot.

GVL/Sara Carte – Photo Illustration MacKenzi Krieger and Sean Truszkowski battle over a parking spot.

Lucas Escalada

With more than 7,200 parking spaces available on the Allendale Campus, the ever-increasing population of Grand Valley State University students is bound to struggle to find a space. Since not all parking spaces are open to all students, finding open spots late at night or during peak hours can be tough.

Sophomore Jordan Chrispell went for a late night run at the Kelly Family Sports Center last week. When she returned to her home in the Niemeyer Living Center, she could not find a place to park her car. After driving around for 20 minutes, Chrispell finally decided to park in Lot J, behind Laker Village, and walk to Niemeyer from there.

For students like Chrispell, the answer is simple: build more parking.

“We need more lots for students as well as faculty,” Chrispell said. “Spots that are located close to our buildings, not spots that we have to walk 10 or more minutes to reach during single digit temperatures, rain, snow, etc.”

Chrispell drives her car multiple times a week, usually during busy periods when many students are leaving and entering the university. She said it is easy to find parking during the day, but she often finds herself driving to multiple lots in order to find a parking spot.

Chrispell thinks the best way to solve the parking problem is by building more parking spots, or by building two-story parking garages. She said the parking situation is getting out of hand, and the university needs to do something about it.

“I can’t afford to waste my gas money circling lots, pay parking tickets for parking in commuter lots after residential lots fill up or afford to lose my appendages with long walks in single digit temperatures,” Chrispell said.

According to Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president of Facilities Services, the university has no plans to expand parking. Thimmesch said the university’s Department of Public Safety conducts an annual, weeklong parking survey to determine parking lot usage.

“This usage information, along with new building construction plans, helps us to decide when existing parking is sufficient or whether to recommend new parking lot construction,” Thimmesch said.

Less than 85 percent of the parking spaces are occupied during peak periods, Thimmesch said.

While Chrispell believes there is a lack of parking spaces, Thimmesch said parking surveys indicate spaces are available.

“Open spaces may not be as convenient as someone would like,” Thimmesch said, “But there are vacant locations.”

A reason that might encourage GVSU to build more parking is the addition of a new housing complex. Although Thimmesch said there are no plans to build parking with the new building, the situation is still being evaluated. Thimmesch said location is an important factor when considering new parking.

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