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Parking: the universal woe

By Dave DeCenzo
Coastal Carolina University President

Parking seems to be a universal issue of discontent at universities across the country, and Coastal Carolina University is no exception. In recent weeks, I have received many comments and suggestions from students, parents, faculty and staff with regard to the parking situation on campus. Few issues on any campus draw this level of ire and escalating frustration.

Many of these comments focus on the construction of a parking garage on campus. While this unique type of project has many facets, one prohibitive obstacle has been and remains the cost of such construction. For example, earlier this year the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the University of Florida in Gainesville opened a $20 million 950-space parking garage at a cost of $21,052 per space; and in February, Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga., opened a $13.4 million garage to accommodate 863 vehicles for $15,527 per space. Closer to home, The State newspaper reported that USC’s new garage will cost $8.8 million for 368 spaces, or nearly $22,000 per space. These figures are especially staggering when compared to our cost of surface parking at approximately $1,500 per space.

To accommodate our growth within our means, nearly 300 parking spaces have been added on campus in the last year and an additional 644 paved spaces will be added to our inventory in the next year. In January 2011, 520 of these spaces will be complete behind Bill Baxley Hall and should ease much of the parking pressure. (To build a parking deck of 644 spaces, construction could conservatively top $10 million.)

I am proud to see the Student Government Association’s initiative toward assessing campus parking and seeking viable solutions.

The Campus Master Planning team, guided by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass., is addressing parking and vehicular circulation, as well as the location of buildings and other campus facilities, open spaces, pedestrian movement and infrastructure improvements. With the Board of Trustees, I look forward to the final report in December, which will also include estimates for improvements and new buildings, and a plan for implementation. I applaud the enthusiastic involvement of the 29 people on the Master Plan Steering Committee and the Master Plan Advisory Committee, all of whom have contributed their time and talent to building our future.

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