It’s common to hear conversations around the University of Tampa campus revolving around homework, going out and the temperamental weather. However, the most common conversation nowadays is the issue of parking, even though the parking consensus shows enough spots for all registered students. There are new parking plans in the works, but many students still feel there is not enough spots to accommodate the number of students on campus that have a car, especially the commuters.
Jessie Bergman, a senior music performance major, thinks that the lack of parking for commuter students is a problem. “I don’t have class until noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I can barely find parking on the sixth floor of West garage.”
According to Linda Devine, VP of Operations and Planning, the freshman class is usually the one that brings the fewest cars to campus. The ones living in the Howard Johnson can use the hotel lot, but freshmen are also allowed to use West Parking Garage. However, with the amount of students using the garages, it is interfering with schedules.
“Almost every time I come to class at 10 a.m. I am late because of the congestion in the garage, and people stopping so frequently to stalk people to their cars,” Bergman said.
There have been several complaints this fall regarding the lack of parking, but according to collected and researched data, there should be enough space for everyone. “We are still assessing where we are with parking permits issued this fall,” Devine said. “Our official census date was Sept. 19, and we’re working through those analyses now. However, our projections showed a sufficient number of spaces for students, faculty and staff.”
It’s not only students who have trouble finding parking sometimes; the faculty and staff also experience the same problem.
“I think the main reason is that the university has grown quite a bit since the parking lots and garages were designed, and it basically has outgrown its capacity to serve the faculty and staff with adequate parking,” communication professor Dana Plays said.
According to Devine, The University of Tampa’s new regular undergraduate number is actually lower this year than last. However the campus is still growing, and even with the upcoming addition of the newest residence hall, students are worried that with a greater number of students on campus (possibly many with cars) will affect the already crowded parking garages.
But there is a plan for that.
“Once construction around [Residence Hall] 7 and west of North Boulevard is completed, there will be more parking options for drivers,” Devine said. “The master plan does allow for an additional parking structure but it is too soon to comment on specifics.”
But for right now, there is a plan to help students, faculty and staff find places to park in the near future. “In the next few weeks we’ll be opening a small (55 spaces) temporary lot near the Thomas Garage,” Devine explained. “That lot, when coupled with 16 spaces near the 813 Building, will help give drivers some additional options.”
Another way to possibly open up more parking could be to act more on the sustainability message the campus is promoting. Professor Plays thinks this could be another efficient method to solve the problem of a lack of parking.
“The University encourages sustainability, by giving priority parking spaces to green vehicles, which I see as a good thing,” she said. “Other green solutions might be to give incentives for carpooling, biking, walking to work, with some sort of quota parking system, to build credit for prime spots. Maybe we want to have an off-campus lot with a shuttle system. We could benchmark how other universities are remedying limited parking.”
Or the campus could follow other colleges and universities by limiting the number of students allowed to bring cars, “We should have a ‘no-cars-for-freshmen’ policy, like other universities do,” Bergman said.
With the new campus expansion, the future of campus parking is on people’s minds. But with new parking options opening, students, faculty and staff should be able to easily find places to park, without worrying about missing out on class or other obligations.
Caroline Metell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org