NARDI: Parking predicaments

 

 

Tom Nardi

I remember when I took my final tour of Villanova University as a blue-eyed high school senior. Someone asked our Blue Key tour guide what her thoughts were on not being allowed a car during freshman and sophomore years. She dutifully downplayed the question, saying that she adjusted so well to the change that she barely even used her car when allowed her junior year.

Oh for the simplistic na’veté dished to me by Blue Key. After four years at Villanova, I wonder whether my tour guide ditched her wheels because she adjusted or rather because it was more of a hassle to use them in the first place.

During the first three years of your life at Villanova – your on-campus years – you are late to class because you slept through it or because your last professor ran late. When you are politely informed you are no longer welcome on campus senior year, the excuse becomes that you can’t find parking.

Any senior can tell you that the search for a decent parking space – in Main Lot or in Pike Lot – can take upward of 15 minutes at peak class time. And when there is inclement weather, West residents decide they can’t bear to walk all the way to Main. When you are coming from sometimes 20 minutes away, like my apartment at Kingswood, it takes quite an extra effort to allot your search time.

In fact, the problem not only applies to students. I had a professor late to class because there was no available parking on Main Campus. The professor’s solution? Park in the fire lane and hope Public Safety didn’t notice. Do I blame the late students and professors? No. I blame the University.

The Sunday of the week before spring break, I made my way to campus as I usually do around 3 p.m. for my 3:30 p.m. shift at the Writing Center. However, campus was mobbed. I made a left off of Spring Mill onto Lancaster and immediately hit bumper-to-bumper traffic, and it took me 10 minutes to get from Spring Mill to Main Lot.

But Main Lot was already full. Ditto for Pike. And when I got down to South Campus, that was full too. I went to park in the neighborhood behind South, but cars already lined the streets. So I drove to the SEPTA lot on West and forked over a dollar to park – after I already paid $100 to Villanova this year. I just wanted to be 20 minutes late for my job at that point.

When I got to the Writing Center, I was furious, because I had no idea why campus was so packed, especially since it was Sunday! I double checked my e-mail, but there was no notice. I scoured the University Web site, but to no avail. Surely, I thought, there was something important going on that required so many people and cars.

Finally, I found that there were local boys’ basketball championships being played at the Pavillion. I got that not from Villanova but rather from a local newspaper’s Web site.

Villanova doesn’t have enough parking for its own students, let alone for an event of that magnitude. And not to alert the students, some of whom have to commute to campus, is inexcusable.

The University has already acknowledged the parking problem. While the School of Law parking garage was being constructed, a temporary parking lot was set on the lawn in front of Tolentine Hall. Yet that lot stands completed, and the temporary lot remains. And both are routinely empty, yet undergraduate students are denied access.

The fact stands that Villanova needs to construct more parking somewhere. I would propose a new parking garage built on Pike Lot. But whatever it may be, for a want-to-be first-rate University, which makes most all of its senior class commute and routinely holds big events, Villanova has an indefensibly low number of parking spaces. If I pay $100 a year to park, I reasonably expect a return on my investment. Right now, I don’t get it.

And with our commitment to greening, one wonders how much fuel is wasted by students circling for better spots.

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Tom Nardi is a senior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]