Parking lot closures displace students
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 18:04
Parking lot closures, especially of Zone 1, have left students upset and faculty struggling to balance the needs of the university with those of parking permit holders.
Senior Alex Kesler started a Facebook group to protest parking lot closures.
"This year has been the worst," said Kesler. "Last year I had zone Zone 2, and at least then I knew I had a parking space."
Even though Kesler paid $300 for his parking permit in order to park in Zone 1 — "which is supposed to be better" — he is often displaced to make room for parking during university events. Zone 1 consists of the parking lots beside Randall Library, Kenan Auditorium, the Cultural Arts building and the Student Recreation Center.
When students and faculty are instructed to park elsewhere, which has happened to Zone 1 parkers multiple times this year, the substitute lots are not always ideal.
"I have had to park in the parking spaces near the baseball fields, which are hazardous," said Kesler, concerned that the spots are too close together, requiring that drivers reverse blindly into traffic.
Bart Neu is the new parking and transportation manager at UNCW and is sympathetic of the displaced parkers.
"It is not our goal to displace parkers," said Neu. "Unfortunately, parking lots are often closed for certain events — events scheduled by the university which also benefit the university."
Neu and Kesler have discussed possible remedies, including widening slanted parking spaces like those Kesler deems hazardous to enable drivers to see around the cars parked beside them.
Neu said the issue at hand now is the closure of lots during the day for nighttime events. When a parking lot is closed all day for an athletic event but remains empty, Neu says that it "sends out the wrong message to campus — that the athletic event is more important than classes." Parking and Transportation is working to change that.
Although events that displace parkers are almost always university-sponsored, there are exceptions. Filming of "One Tree Hill" often takes place on campus, but UNCW, as a public school, is mandated by the State to accommodate filming. Neu said there is "economic benefit of promoting not only North Carolina but Wilmington and the university itself" by way of the film industry.