March 7, 2006

Parking Lot May Open Early

Print More

Although University officials had originally slated the completion of the West Campus Residential Initiative for 2010, accelerated progress have led them to anticipate that construction may end as early as the summer 2008, according to Construction Manager Art Fives.

If construction finishes ahead of schedule, the 176-space parking lot on the southwest corner of University and Stewart Avenues would also open earlier than expected. The lot, which was constructed last summer over the controversial Redbud Woods after months of public outcry regarding the University’s commitment to sustainability, is currently reserved solely for construction workers’ cars.

Once construction ends, Cornell will sell about 50 spaces to faculty and staff and the remaining spaces to students. Because of heavy construction, the parking lot is practically at capacity now, Fives said.

“In about two or three weeks we’ll have exceeded the capacity of the parking lot and we’ll have to start busing” construction workers, he added.

The WCRI, which began in 2003, has already resulted in the construction of Alice Cook House in 2004 and Carl Becker House in 2005. When construction is completed, West Campus will have a new community center, five residential houses with a capacity of about 350 each and a dining room.

West Campus lost approximately 250 parking spaces from the construction of Alice Cook House in 2004, according to David Lee ’89, assistant director for public information for transportation and mail services.

Only faculty and staff have permits for the few remaining parking spaces on West Campus, although students may use them on nights and weekends.

“There is zero [permanent] parking for students” on West Campus, Lee

said, adding that West Campus residents who applied for parking permits must park on North Campus.

According to data compiled by Lee’s department, 181 sophomores, juniors

and seniors have parking permits – priced at $622.92 – for North Campus as of Oct. 31, 2005. Lee had no information on how many of those upperclassmen lived on West Campus, although he estimated that a significant number of them did.

West Campus houses approximately 1,800 students, which would put the portion of those with cars at less than 10 percent. This percentage, however, excludes those who find other places to park.

“We’re looking at providing a mix of proximal and remote parking,” Lee

said. “Even when we’re using that lot, it’s not going to house the number of West Campus people who brought cars. Some will still be displaced. It’s about achieving a balance.”

Lee said he has noticed fewer on-campus residents bringing cars over the past five years or so. For instance, only 146 out of about 3,200 freshman – less than five percent – have parking permits. And 8,751 students have bus passes, up from 6,253 the year before. The increase in bus passes is largely due to a settlement between Cornell and the Redbud Woods Working Group that granted all new students free bus passes – normally valued at $200 for the school year.

But Lee said that this trend was underway even before the settlement, as the University has made a concerted effort in recent years to discourage students from bringing cars to Cornell by touting public transportation and raising parking permit rates.

Prof. Kathryn Gleason, landscape architecture, who chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Sustainable Transportation, said the University’s parking shortage is a “perennial

issue.” The committee, which formed as a result of the Redbud Woods controversy, tries to achieve a balance between convenient parking and environmental sustainability.

“At least in terms of our committee, students really stepped up to the sustainability plate, so we didn’t really hear from people who wished there was more parking,” Gleason said. As for the dearth of parking on West Campus, Gleason said, “I think it’s one attraction of living on campus that you don’t really need a car.”

Faculty in Alice Cook House and Carl Becker House say they haven’t heard students riled about the parking shortage.

“We’ve been pretty open with students in the lottery process,” said Jean Reese, assistant dean of Alice Cook House. “I don’t think it necessarily make students happy, but they’re informed.” Reese, who circles West Campus with her dog almost daily, said she sees the parking lot completely full Monday through Friday.

Reese said she didn’t believe that parking significantly factored into students decisions to live on West Campus.

“There was a lot of talk last summer and a lot of protest, but now I hear students talking about prelims,” said Jeffrey Ellens, assistant dean of Carl Becker House.

Matthew Korobkin ’07, who has lived on West Campus for nearly two years

and currently services as the Alice Cook representative of the West

Campus Council, said he does not know many students there with cars. Yet, he contended, “I’m sure it is an issue, simply because so many students