Parking: Why now?

Rebecca Rodriguez

Osprey Village will lose 40 spots while the construction takes place. Photo by Natalie Logan
Osprey Village will lose 40 spots while the construction takes place.
Photo by Natalie Logan

An $8 million parking garage* is being built next semester — something President John Delaney did not see the need for in June.

Delaney said he originally thought garages would be built on the north side of campus. “That’s always been kind of in the books, but it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to spend that money up there,” he said.

The new garage is being built in a congested area, which is why no one had thought of this area before, Delaney said.

He said he never considered building a garage behind the Fine Arts center, but when the engineers presented it about four months ago he realized it would work .

Delaney said UNF has a master plan which is updated every five years. He said they make changes to the plan occasionally.

“The revenue from parking is pretty stable, so we know what we are going to get virtually every year. We have known that there is a garage in our future somewhere. It was just a question of when,” Delaney said.
The university anticipates having 25,000 students in the future, Delaney said. He said they are building the campus to fit these future students.

“This site is kind of unique. It fits in there. The ramps work and the connection to the Fine Arts garage works,” he said.

UNF will need to create more parking on the northern lot, but Delaney said they will put that off for as long as possible because it’s expensive.

Zak Ovadia, Director of Campus Planning, said Parking Services did not tell him why the garage was being built when the idea was first proposed four or five months ago.

Ovadia said he does not question the validity of spending the money on the garage.

“I’m told to build the building and I build the building. That’s what our function is,” Ovadia said.
Vince Smyth, Assistant Vice President of Administration and Finance and director of this project, said the garage will not increase the cost of parking permits.

“There’s a fund balance that’s been built up over a number of years now that allows us to go forward to do this,” Smyth said.

Smyth said he should have considered building in this area sooner.

He said he realized the area would be a good place for a new parking facility when construction began on the new Osprey Clubhouse.

Smyth said they will be flexible when it comes to how many levels they will allow students with premium permits to park on, but they want to take care of housing students’ parking first.

He said students living in Housing A have lost 100 spots due to construction of the Clubhouse. When construction is over, 45 spaces will be permanently lost.

“We are already in a position where the number of permits have sold out every year for the housing students and in future years it’s going to be even worse because there are less spaces than there used to be [due to Clubhouse construction],” Smyth said.

Smyth said they have been asked for years to create more spaces so more students can purchase Housing A permits.

Smyth said there are public documents recording these complaints, but will not need to present any evidence to the people involved in this project because they have dealt with similar complaints.

* 2/12/2014 – Numbers corrected from original estimations at 9:48 p.m. Source of current numbers is the recommendation to use Parking Services’ fund balance for the construction, which was approved in the Auxiliary Oversight Meeting of Feb. 12.

Email Rebecca Rodriguez at [email protected].