Parking expansion policy under consideration
Now in his fourth year of commuting to campus from Vermillion, Geoffrey Gray-Lobe has a parking strategy. Gray-Lobe usually parks on side streets near Our Savior’s Lutheran or on Grange Avenue.
“That’s actually worked out pretty perfectly,” Gray-Lobe said. “There’s sometimes days when I’m in a hurry and I try to park on [Summit Avenue], but the farthest I’ve ever had to park is one street over on [Norton Avenue].”
Since the construction of the Froiland Science Complex and more housing along Summit, finding a parking space on the east side of campus can be a challenge during mid-day classes.
Sociology professor Susan Schrader said she is one of many faculty members in the social science division who struggle with the lack of parking space and flexibility along Summit. With some professors needing to come and go throughout the day, she said the parking isn’t only unconducive for faculty but also for other visitors.
“Having guest speakers in class has become increasingly difficult, knowing they may need to walk several blocks from the Our Savior’s lot,” Schrader said.
Earlier this year a parking taskforce composed of students, faculty, community members, city officials and police officers gathered to examine parking issues on Augustana’s campus and to brainstorm solutions.
After listening to these concerns, Director of Campus Safety Rick Tupper submitted a proposal to President Rob Oliver recommending that the Humanities parking lot be expanded to Grange, which would add around 60 parking spaces.
Although only in its early stages, Tupper said until more space is made on campus, he doesn’t support any changes to the current parking permitting process, such as creating a faculty designated lot or changing where commuters can park.
“I would be more than supportive of that if we were to build another parking lot somewhere else, but right now you can’t just move one problem to create another problem,” Tupper said. “And actually by moving that problem you create five other problems.”
If the Humanities lot expands, the new spaces would be designated for commuter parking. The lots along Summit would then be reserved for faculty and visitor parking.
Augustana Student Association senator Gabi Schmidt said although no one wants to remove green space from campus, this may be the best option for a solution.
“I don’t think the area [between Grange and the Humanities lot] is used [as a] green area as it’s pretty much only used for homecoming week,” Schmidt said.
Another option in the proposal would create diagonal parking along Summit before constructing new apartments. Currently the street is four feet too narrow to expand parking on one side.
“We need to put [diagonal parking] in the future plans for Summit Apartments, and on top of that, we were considering doing diagonal parking along college drive,” Schmidt said. “I think [diagonal parking] would greatly help.”
Currently, there are 1,996 parking spaces at Augustana with the majority located near the Elmen Center and Kirkeby-Over Stadium.
Financing additional parking areas is difficult. Tupper said adding one new parking space in Sioux Falls costs between $3,000 and $5,000. Adding 60 parking spaces near Humanities would cost upwards of $300,000.
Compared to other suggestions, a parking ramp would cost between $15,000 and $20,000 per parking space. And with the minimum size of a parking ramp requiring 200 spaces, the total would come out to be about $4 million, according to Tupper.
“So you will not be seeing any parking ramps going up around campus any time soon,” Tupper said.
With the proposal now getting reviewed by administration for further research into funding, discussions will likely carry on into next academic year.
“The challenge with fund raising for a parking lot is that people aren’t lined up to put their name on a parking lot,” Tupper said. “But we need the parking space to have an operational flow.”