Potential parking crisis?

Jeffrey Yerger

Remember that car commercial where about 20 drivers play “musical parking spaces,” racing around the lot in order to avoid being the one not to get a spot? Lately, it seems parking on campus has become reminiscent of this scenario. Some may even wonder if the commercial was filmed right here in Villanova’s Main Parking Lot. Overcrowded lots combined with limited parking spaces have become a recipe for a parking nightmare on campus. Over the past few years, parking has become a concern for commuters and students with cars on campus. While there are approximately 4,900 parking spots on campus, according to the Department of Public Safety Parking Office, the spaces fill up more quickly than might be expected. This often leads to frustration with commuters who want to get to class on time stress-free. Bridget Gallagher, a freshman commuter, arrives on campus every morning about 10 minutes early for her 8:30 a.m. class. She seldom has trouble finding a space in the morning, which she attributes to the lack of upperclassmen taking early classes. However, trying to park again after lunch is a completely different story. When she tries to park around noontime, Gallagher says her normal routine consists of a “drive around for 15 minutes looking for a space to park.” In Gallagher’s opinion, the problem is only getting worse. “With the number of people applying [for parking passes] as well as the class sizes getting bigger, I can only imagine how it’s going to be when the whole class gets to park,” Gallagher says. While this is certainly a plausible concern for the commuters who attend Villanova, upperclassmen with cars on campus also believe parking is becoming a huge problem. Jenny Nelson, a junior who lives on West Campus, has had to park on South Campus multiple times, which is at least a 20-minute walk from her room. “There is clearly not enough parking on campus,” Nelson says. “The only positive is West Campus parking, but they only hand out two hangtags per apartment, which sucks.” Not only is parking during the day a concern for students, parking at night has proven to be equally difficult. “The worst time for trying to park is around 8-10 p.m. at night when people are getting back from where ever they’ve been,” Nelson says.David Tedjeske, the new director of Public Safety, seems to be unaware of the mounting concerns students have over parking. While Tedjeske maintains that there have not been a vast number of complaints regarding the lack of spaces, many students seem to differ. Sarah Cognetti, a senior who lives off campus, has plenty to complain about when it comes to parking. “When I go to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m., there are times when I have to drive around for 20 minutes looking for a parking spot,” Cognetti says. “If we have to pay $100 to get a parking permit, Villanova should at least be able to provide parking spots for everyone.” Tedjeske admits that Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be “the heaviest days” for parking on campus, but he is quick to suggest that there are other parking lots besides Main Lot that help fix the problem. “What a lot of students don’t know is that the lots on South Campus are used to handle the overflow of the main lots,” Tedjeske says. Besides the fact that parking there is a huge inconvenience to students, the 283 spots on South Campus fill up fast due to the limited number of freshmen and resident assistants parking in the lots as well. Perhaps it is not the amount of parking that is the problem, but the fact that people park illegally that has led to increased congestion. Sophomore Courtney Meis, who recently obtained a parking pass, sympathizes with those that park illegally but warns there are definite consequences. “I used to illegally park last year,” Meis says. “I think I got 11 tickets in second semester. We need more parking.”Tedjeske explains that the minimum fine is $15, and from there it can build up to as much as $250. Fifteen dollars may seem arbitrary, but the consequences continue to increase with the number of offenses. Tedjeske warns that “habitual offenders will get booted” if they receive three tickets for the same violation within one semester. Students often feel frustrated by the restrictions and have called for additional parking as the solution. On the other hand, many urge the exact opposite. Last year, the University added an additional “temporary” parking lot on the Main Campus side of Lancaster Avenue. Not only has the lot been deemed an eye-sore, but many also question its practicality. A majority of the time the lot is less than half full, and students are not allowed to park there. “Villanova has made the campus uglier by putting in the temporary lot in front of Tolentine to add more staff parking,” says Kristen Zodrow, a senior student who lives off campus.   “The drive down Lancaster where you see the front of Villanova was one of the selling points … when I was applying to school.  Now there is an ugly, tan, rock parking lot where a beautiful green field used to be.  The campus definitely does not look better.”The general consensus among students is that they need better lit lots and allowance to park on Main Campus at night. To avoid stress due to the congestion in the parking lots, be sure to arrive on campus with plenty of time to spare before your next class and avoid the temptation to get mad. On the bright side, at least the long walk is an opportunity to get some exercise!