Costly new ‘premier’ parking spots lack appeal for students

Premium parking spots have been designated on campus, including at this location behind South Hall. But the cost seems too much for students. Photo by Evan Bowley

A plethora of parking problems have long been a source of aggravation for students and faculty at Norwich University. Now, the Norwich Security Department is offering a potential way to improve the situation– at least if you are a student willing to pay extra.

Norwich is offering nine special parking spaces at extra cost located behind South Hall and the infirmary.
The announcement of the option first appeared on the Norwich University student website, explaining, “The reserved parking spaces will only be issued by the Security Office, where you will receive a special sticker. They will be issued on first-come , first-serve basis beginning today, Dec. 14, 2016.”

The announcement was signed by Norwich’s Chief of Security, Lawrence Rooney, who explained that the idea came from Norwich student government.

The cost of these premier parking spaces is $337.50 for the spring semester, which is in addition to the annual parking pass. There is no doubt many students would love to leave parking hassles behind, but according to student interviews, the price tag is a deterrent from buying the pass.

“It is an individual decision,” Rooney admitted. “It will work for some who live close by, but not for others who are not near one of the reserved premier areas.”

Some of the premier parking spaces are not accessible to everyone. If you are requesting a spot behind South Hall, for example, security will issue a clicker to raise and close the gate. All students who purchase premier spots will receive a special sticker to place on their vehicle.

The idea of premier spaces doesn’t address the real problem, according to a “Bob,” a student who didn’t want his name used. “There is not enough available or convenient parking. Something needs to be done, but it seems that it is just one of those things that keeps getting put off longer and longer.” He does not plan to purchase a premier parking space.

From a faculty point of view, Bill Vivian, a former security officer and current purchasing agent, said, “It’s neither a good nor a bad idea. I definitely don’t see it causing much of an issue, but I also don’t see the benefits from a student’s perspective.” Many students who were interviewed agreed with Vivian. A student who did not want his real name used suggested poorly designed lots could be contributing to insufficient parking. Something as simple as re-painting the parking lot could increase space, he said, noting he does not plan to buy a premier parking space.

According to Vivian, there are some negatives associated with this new parking option. For example, issues could arise if students without premier parking passes park in the reserved spaces.

Vivian mentioned that faculty also face difficulty finding parking on campus. Currently, there is more parking for students than there is for faculty and staff. The faculty spots are sometimes taken by students in the morning and at night, he noted.

His suggestion was building another parking lot or a parking structure. Even an addition to C or D lot would ease some of the congestion.

A parking garage might be the most effective way of expanding parking on campus. However, most students probably will never see such a structure built as the school has pre-allocated funds for various buildings that need to be renovated before the parking situation is figured out.

Some students claim this is simply a way for the school to make some extra money. “It’s too far away from the main barracks. Also $337 for a semester? Sounds like a really cheap cash grab,” said Mathew Pierce, a 21-year-old communications major.

The price is almost 200 percent of a normal semester parking pass, and Pierce said he would not purchasing one. “I never really have a problem finding a parking spot, even if they can be far,” he said.

Some Corps of Cadets members felt at a particular disadvantage in the deal. A student in the Corps of Cadets would park normally in the C or D parking lots located next to the baseball field and make their trek back up to the Upper Parade Ground.

“$337 for ONE semester, and it’s actually further from me than the regular parking lots,” remarked one Corps member who felt it wasn’t a great deal.

For some students it simply comes down to priorities. Brandon Lopez, 20, a construction management major, joked, “I’d rather use the $337 for something useful like booze.” He also advocated for a parking garage. However, his location differed from most suggestions.

“They should turn the grass area with the gazebo in front of Crawford into a parking lot and make a parking garage,” Lopez suggested. As with most of the students interviewed, Brad does not plan on buying a premier parking space.

While many students seemed to pan the premier parking spaces, they also felt the current parking areas are insufficiently taken care of. According to Kasey Jacobs, 21, a major in sports medicine and a member in the Corps of Cadets, “There is not enough space, plow the parking lots please or at least salt them.”

He also shared concerns about parking in the C or D lot after a recent storm. Facility operations, he said, is slow getting around to maintaining the lots.

While parking woes are a sore point for many at Norwich, the idea of premier spaces does not appear to be catching on at least so far. Just about everyone interviewed wants to spend their hard-earned money on something other than premier parking spaces. One student said he is actually paying for a space in another state, in Massachusetts, and it is cheaper than the proposal at Norwich. “That’s far too much money, my parking space in Boston costs less than that. How can you have premier parking spots when you don’t even have enough spaces for general parking?”

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