Parking options shrink as science complex expands
Cars circle the block between Norton Avenue and 31st Street as Grace Gering walks to class in the Madsen Center. Living off campus, the senior is used to seeing students park a block or more away from their respective academic buildings, rushing to arrive on time for morning classes.
“I think it would be a great idea to address this [parking] issue,” Gering said. “More parking would be appreciated. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the students who live on Summit to find street parking when they get home.”
Finding a parking spot on campus isn’t just a problem for students, it’s a challenge faculty also have to cope with every day, unless they walk from home.
“Both students and faculty come and go,” sociology professor Susan Schrader said. “If you go downtown for a meeting and then have to rush back to teach class, it’s hard to find a close parking spot within that time constraint.”
With the addition of the Froiland Science Center (FSC), parking spaces on the east side of campus have become even harder to find. As the FSC grew, space in both the Madsen and FSC lots shrunk. It’s a predicament biology professor Paul Egland has seen firsthand.
Egland said he thinks the biggest problem is not Augustana’s lack of spaces, but rather knowing where to park in the lots available. Part of Our Savior’s Lutheran’s lot is available for Augustana faculty, but not everyone takes advantage of its proximity to the FSC.
“One idea is to issue parking permits for the different lots, so that faculty know where to park in the first place,” Egland said. “It would save us from having to drive around and search for a spot in every lot.”
Egland met with the Dean of Students office last year, including Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Bies, hoping to address the problem, while Schrader uplifted the issue at her department’s first meeting of the year.
For his part, Bies said he knows campus parking is an ongoing challenge.
“There’s always things we can do to improve parking,” Bies said. “It’s one of those things we know we need more of, but adding parking is always expensive, especially now when we’re in the process of finishing and starting a couple big building projects.”
The building projects Bies referenced—the addition of a second Summit Apartment complex and a new student activities center—will place even more pressure on administration to come up with parking solutions for Augustana’s landlocked campus. But it’s a challenge Bies said he thinks can be addressed creatively.
“Whenever you build something, city zoning laws require you to have an appropriate amount of parking available,” Bies said. “We’ve been literally turning over every stone, considering a parking ramp, underground parking and parking garages, to continue to try to keep rates low for students and staff.”
Schrader said the issue remains how to find a solution that benefits everyone. Two options she thought should be considered are re-designating each lot by permit and, like Egland, looking into additional parking in the Our Savior’s lot.
For Schrader, the parking issue centers on eliminating additional stresses for students and faculty alike.
“Ultimately it comes down to how we as faculty in the classroom can be prepared for students in creative and resourceful ways,” she said. “I know the university is aware of the issue. That’s the first step in working to solve it.”