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Parking issues still abound

October 12, 2006

Last year, rumors circulated campus about parking meters being installed along Cascade Avenue. Apparently they were more than just rumors. 

Campus Planner Dale Braun said meters were proposed by the River Falls City Council, but the UW-River Falls didn’t want them. The proposal has come up twice since the initial proposal, the last time during spring semester. 

River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque said there is no current agenda item scheduled for the City Council on the parking issue. 

“There is interest on the part of some council members to consider parking meter denomination and time changes,” Leque said. “Some possible expansion of parking meters could also be advanced for consideration as well, however, an exact time frame for consideration has not been determined.”

The problem with meters, Braun said, is “it would discourage students from staying on campus.” Once a student’s time is up on a meter, he or she would be compelled to leave campus.

Braun also said in the future there would be a cost for parking in the streets. 

“The cost of more policing and maintenance will rise, as well as the amount of parking permits,” Braun said. “This has to be paid for by students’ revenues and fees because there is no help from the city.”

Director of Purchasing Services Tom Weiss said there were no plans for meters to go up on Cascade as of four months ago.

Braun said the University has about 6,200 students, but with the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin approved, the campus should expect about 1,000 additional students for next year.

“Part-time and grad students wouldn’t be a large problem in the future,” Braun said.  Traditional undergraduate students, who usually park for an entire day, will cause the most commotion.

Yet Weiss has a possible solution for the future.

“Parking ramps have been a subject of discussion, but the cost is so high,” Weiss said. “A low estimate for a 400-car ramp runs about $6.5 million.”

Including the cost of operations, maintenance and interest on payments, the ramp could cost $1,000-$1,500 per year.

Students who either commute or use a car on campus held some of their own opinions about parking.

Junior Victoria Reiner often uses the metered lot if she is crunched for time.

“I don’t think parking is too much of a problem now, but I can see it for the future,” she said. 

Reiner said if a ramp is built, the cost should only apply to students who are parking there, not the entire student body.

“Parking in general is a joke,” said junior Nathan Martinson. 

He said he thinks parking is better this year than it was last year, and he doesn’t believe there should be time limits on when students can park in the streets.

Graduate student Erin Courtney said she thinks the most aggravating thing about parking is when there is a large space between two cars.

“People don’t park close enough to each other,” Courtney said, adding she thinks if the amount of parking permits were limited on the residential streets, not as many students would be going for the same space.

Only time will tell what happens to the parking issues. As for now, students can attempt to improve their parallel parking.