Each semester, parking lots around campus morph into a battleground of students competing to grab the nearest parking spot. Students walking towards their cars at particularly busy times- 10am to 2pm- of the day are even prone to being followed to their parking spot by students in a rush.
“The amount of parking available needs to grow with the student body” said Fantasy Nunes, an English junior. “And walking out to the very back of Lot 53 at night is scary. It’s not well lit at all.”
Despite complaints that parking is less than satisfactory by many students, few realize how good parking is at UNF.
“The problem is a perception problem. In reality, we have plenty of inventory on campus. There’s always a place to park. Lot 53 will always have 600 spaces or more for faculty, staff and students to park in,” said Vince Smyth, Assistant Vice President of Administration and Finance. “The issue is people want to park right beside their office or class or residence hall. That’s why you end up with what’s perceived as a problem.”
However, that isn’t to say that UNF is without its parking problems.
“You have to drive around for a minute, but its not like the spots aren’t there,” said Michael Mendoza, history senior. “The trouble is convenience.”
Many of the perceived problems with parking stem from the construction of the Student Union.
Smyth said 1,000 spaces were lost when construction began on the Student Union.
“We had parking in the core of the campus before we built the Student Union,” said Smyth. “All the people that were used to parking in the core of the campus and could no longer find spaces nearby were likely to say ‘I don’t care’ and park on the grass.”Smyth said this caused an increased number of parking citations in the first few years after the Student Union’s construction in 2009. However, the number of citations issued reached a more standard number in 2011 and has lowered steadily each year. Smyth said citations have decreased because of more efficient parking and shuttles.
“While the enforcement continues at the level its been, there just aren’t as many people parking illegally,” said Smyth
The University of Florida, who must monitor the parking of both students and non-students more regularly due to football games and events, issued more than 73,000 citations in 2011. Of those, 35,000 were given to students, according to the Gainesville Sun. The same year, UNF only issued 24,000 total.
The University of Central Florida struggles to find parking for its 60,000 students, even with 11 parking garages and 32 parking lots, according to Central Florida Future.
Smyth confirmed plans to add a wing to the back of the Fine Arts Center parking garage.
“The neat thing that we’re going to look at is that we want to make it a flexible garage. Some of the floors would be for housing students,” said Smyth.
Smyth also said a new parking garage located on or near Lot 18 was a possibility.
With the cost of parking garage construction at around $12,000 per spot, UNF would be considering investing about $6 million for a full garage. Students have no need to worry about any increased student fees or tuition, however, because all money spent is revenue earned by Parking Services.
In the meantime, students who are struggling with parking are encouraged to consider Lot 53 as an option. Any valid UNF permit is accepted there, and it’s only a 5-minute shuttle ride from there to campus.
With plans to expand parking, students at UNF have no need to worry. Whether you’re running late or twenty minutes early, there will always be a spot for you.
E-mail Alex Wilson at [email protected]