University undertakes effort to ease congestion in commuter parking lots

In an effort to ease a persistent shortage of parking for commuter students, Norwich University has increased commuter parking with the addition of a new parking lot north of Plumley Armory.

“We know we have a shortage of parking on campus,” said David Magida, NU chief administrative officer. “We know we need to address that; we work on it as we can.”

According to Ryan Johnson, assistant dean of students, Norwich has 333 civilian commuter and 21 cadet commuter students. With this many students, there should be enough parking to accommodate the daily influx.

“If I remove lots C and D from the equation, there are approximately 20 spots in lot B, 75 in Lot E, 87 spots at Kreitzberg, 32 spots at lot F, and 57 at Plumley,” said Michael Abraham, NU chief of security. This results in a total of 271 spots. However, that number is also decreased by the faculty, who share 176 of those spaces. Parking lots C and D are used primarily for residential students.

Magida explained that during the renovation of Sabine Field into a multipurpose athletic field, a parking plan was necessary as part of the permitting process for the state: “The permitting process of Vermont requires that we look at pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic, and parking.”

“When we designed Sabine field, we knew we were going to eliminate 11 existing parking places,” he said, explaining that with the construction of this new lot there would be a net gain of 21 spots.

Before the new parking lot was built, the plot of land was used “occasionally, for very busy weekends.” Norwich University acquired the land from the Billings family. “Sometime early to mid-1980s, the Billings family wanted to sell the house,” said Bizhan Yahyazadeh, NU director of facilities operations. He explained that the matriarch of the family, Bernice Billings, contacted the university when she wanted to sell the house. She made an arrangement to live in the house until she passed away.

When she died in 1994, the house was turned into student housing. “It was three different apartments,” he said. But over time, the house grew older and became run down and because the school had enough housing, it decided the land could be put to better use.

“In order to keep the house as a viable rental property, the upkeep and renewal would be so great that it just didn’t seem sensible [to keep it],” said Lauren Wobby, NU chief financial officer, and the house was torn down.

According to Wobby the land was appraised at $35,000 in 2004. The cost of every space that now sits in that field for the University is around $108. To pay for these spaces, parking pass prices had to be increased.

“Annual cost for registration is the same for residents and commuters, $85,” said Abraham, while referring to pricing a student has to pay if they have a vehicle on campus. “A car that is towed from Fac/Staff parking to student parking is charged a $30 ticket and $65 for the cost of the tow,” he said.

With the increase in the student population, there will always be problems with parking, but Johnson said that is not unusual.

“I don’t know a college that doesn’t have a parking issue,” Johnson said.

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