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Parking issues cause debate on campus

October 4, 2007

UW-River Falls has spent almost the last month or so adjusting to parking problems on campus.

The increase in parking fees has bothered some students, and the reason the White House was still in Q Lot when school began made a number of students wonder why it was still there.

In Q Lot, the commuter lot across from North Hall, prices were raised from 25 cents per half an hour to 50 cents per half an hour, Wendy Penny, operations program associate, said.

While the quarter difference may not seem like it would make a huge impact on students, it has.

The lot, that was previously full nearly every day, now sits emptier day after day, senior Katie Crowell said. Crowell commutes 15-20 minutes each day from her home in Hastings, Minn.

“I do park there every now and again,” Crowell said. “It still makes me mad. I didn’t know why the prices went up and there wasn’t any information as to why.”

UWRF Public Safety Director Dick Trende said the increase in the charge for metered parking was necessary.

All the meters in that lot were removed and updated to digital meters. The old meters kept breaking down and having to be fixed. Now, the University can’t get the parts to fix the old meters, so they just made the switch to all-new meters, Trende said.

The extra money also helps pay for the upkeep of the lots across campus.

The school ended up spending more money than it was worth to ship the old meters to get fixed if they couldn’t get fixed on campus, Penny said.

Another situation involving Q Lot was the non-removal of the White House over the summer. The removal of the house would have allowed about 13 more spaces to be created. Unexpected delays forced the project to move slower than originally projected.

“There were still folks living in the house until the end of July,” Tom Weiss said in an e-mail interview. “We could not destroy or move the house until then. We opened the bids for removal on the 27th of July and there were no bids. We turned it over to the Facilities Management folks to proceed to have the house demolished or properly recycled.”

Weiss is still unsure when the house will be completely removed from the lot.

When students went to the first home football game of the year Sept. 8 at Ramer Field, they noticed something new. This year, officials were charging $3 to park in the parking lot next to the field.

The football season is the only time money will be charged to park at Ramer Field.

Students who already park in Ramer are not charged to park during games, athletic director Rick Bowen said.

“Money is split between parking and the athletic department,” Bowen said. “We are charging because it is a revenue source. We will not be charging for hockey. [It’s] too cold and too hard to staff.”

Some students agree with what the school has done with the increase in parking fees.

“I understand why it had to be done,” senior Derek Brandt said of the fees increase. “But I don’t agree that the commuters have to bear the burden of that decision.”

Brandt said that he thinks that a number of students who commute couldn’t live on campus if they wanted to unless they lived in the extended housing rooms on campus, which is another problem that needs to be addressed.