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SMC revises student parking

Saoud, Angela | Friday, August 27, 2004

If students thought class schedules and homework were going to be the biggest challenges when coming back to Saint Mary’s, unfortunately they were wrong.

Students returned to campus last weekend only to find major changes to their parking options.

Even though Saint Mary’s Security sent a letter home over the summer informing them of the new setup, many were still surprised to see that the LeMans parking lot, used for student parking after business hours and on weekends, replaced with an area of green space.

Dave Chapman, director of security, said the administration based the decision to remove the parking lot on a variety of factors.

“We decided it would be nice to have green space for students to gather,” he said. “Plus, we have students who live in Regina [Hall] who walked across the parking lot, so it was really a safety issue.”

In addition to the removal of the LeMans lot, other parking changes occurred. The area formerly known as the Dining Hall lot was expanded and is now called the Staff, Faculty and Special Events parking lot. Students are no longer allowed to park there at any time, and after the third ticket in this lot, students will be towed.

The Bertrand parking lot, once open to students and visitors from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., is now off-limits after 5:30 p.m. because of a policy shift by the convent that owns it. Unauthorized cars parked in this lot will be towed immediately.

The newly created Opus Apartments parking lot is for Opus residents only. If Opus residents have visitors, the visitor will need to pick up a free parking pass from security, and park in the Angela parking lot.

Chapman said the biggest change this year is the decision to tow vehicles, when past policy had been to put a boot on the vehicles. The towing fee will be $75, plus a $15 a day storage fee – amounts which can add up quickly.

“We don’t want to tow vehicles, but it’s unfair for some students to follow the rules, and not others,” Chapman said. “This will hopefully make everything equal. This is a learning experience for us all. Things may change if we find that this isn’t working.”

But some are concerned there will not be enough student parking, especially on the weekends.

LeMans Hall resident Erica Rangel said she believes the changes are an unnecessary hassle.

“I just think it’s an inconvenience because parking in various spots of campus is scarce as it is,” she said. “We depended on that lot for unloading groceries and things from our cars and for visitor parking on the weekend, and now it’s not an option.”

Others are in favor of the new green space.

“I like that we have a place where we can sit outside now,” senior Michelle Cooper said.

Chapman said there will be enough parking, and emphasized that the security escort from the Angela parking lot to the residence halls will still be in effect seven nights a week.

Although the new parking rules seem to be causing some controversy on campus, Chapman said he has not gotten negative feedback.

“We haven’t received complaints yet, just a lot of questions,” he said. “A lot of students and parents just wanted to make sure they knew where to park, what the procedure was.”

He added that towing is a last resort.

“I don’t want to cost people money, and really it’s only 5 to 10 percent of people who don’t follow the rules,” Chapman said. “But if 90 to 95 percent do, everyone should be able to.”