With fall sports winding down and winter sports heating up, there is one year-round sport that is getting lost in the shuffle: the Gauntlet. NCAA Division I-AA gauntlet isn’t your average MTV show or simply running down the aisle of your high school bus trying to avoid being tackled, it is serious. There are cars involved and, if you’re up for the challenge, Public Safety’s Ford Explorers and party rental supply trucks that always seem to be on campus.
You may see gauntlet athletes practicing their sport roughly every hour for about 15 minutes on the road between Tolentine and Mendel field. Every hour the drivers – students, faculty members, Villanova employees and people who like to slalom in cars around and between pedestrians – compete on this road. Sadly, the once- fierce competition is now waning. For example, I have only had one near-miss incident in the past week and only three cars have tailgated me. This is unacceptable. The gauntlet just isn’t the adrenaline rush it used to be – the danger is gone. There is hope, however. I am looking forward to the new parking lot being built in front of Tolentine.
D-IAA gauntlet at Villanova will be kicked up a notch by the end of the month with the new temporary parking lot between Lancaster Avenue and Tolentine. Forget the students that play cricket, flag football and soccer there or those lucky few who experience the “make-out tree,” that land has been claimed in the name of the gauntlet, the battle of the pavement. For freshmen and sophomores who attended classes in Tolentine and CEER and walk along that road on the Lancaster Avenue side of the building, they will be greeted with the fiercest gauntlet ever – one that involves the consistent traffic flow that accompanies a poorly placed parking lot, a pointless temporary parking lot.
In all seriousness, as much as I enjoy dodging traffic and being tailgated so closely I have a license plate imprinted on my backside (can’t drivers just wait until all the students are in class to move their cars?), there is no reason for this temporary parking lot. Admittedly, Main and Pike Lots do not offer a sufficient number of parking spaces to meet the demand, especially with the construction going on near the Pavilion. However, it does not take a genius to see that those lots are not exemplary parking lots. (Have you walked by the guard booths? Apparently, broken glass panes are repaired by placing another layer of glass over them. I pity any one who must enter those loathsome cubicles.) Then, there is the seemingly unrelated problem of a lack of housing.
Or maybe they aren’t so unrelated.
I’ve been to a few college campuses and various cities and noticed something shocking. Apparently, there are these buildings which serve as parking lots. What is special about these parking lot buildings (hold your breath for this one) is the fact that they contain several layers, floors if you will. They call these engineering triumphs “parking garages.”
They may be on to something.
Villanova could learn a lesson from the parking garage next to the Health Center and imitate that concept on the locations of Pike and Main Lots. Two decent-sized, four- or five-leveled parking decks could easily hold more than the current lots while using much less surface area of the ground. This leftover ground space could easily hold new residence halls, greatly reducing the high number of triples that plagues the current and incoming freshman classes.
When ground space runs out, the next logical place to expand is veritcally, be it downward or upward. It is a model every major and minor city in the world has followed, as well as many other college campuses.
A three- or four-story parking deck can do wonders. (A few people will point out that Radnor is hesitant to allow upward expansion, as evidenced in the three-floored apartments on West. Three floors is more than adequate and a “basement” adds an unoffical fourth. Others have mentioned that expanding downward can get costly, but if it allows the University to accept more students, the cost would eventually be covered.)
The parking decks would not even have to be an eye sore. Modern garages can be and are aesthetically pleasing. The University could tack on a marquee and advertise upcoming games and events to passer-byers. The decks would provide places to park during game days so that the already-narrow Ithan Avenue would not shrink to a half-lane road by South Campus. Bumping up parking costs for game days would eventually make the endeavor profitable – or at least not a financial disaster.
The University is expanding and growing as it gains more prominence. The number of applicants and matriculating students will continue to increase. Villanova needs more room to house them and more places for them to park. A more efficient utilization of the space that Main and Pike Lots now occupy would ease or even solve these budding issues.
It can work. It is a better solution than tearing up the beautiful, colorful lawn between Tolentine and Lancaster Avenue – one of the first things visitors to the University see as they drive toward the church from the Blue Route and form their first impressions from – where students play and spend sunny days. At least the parking garage could have a cool sign with lights, a Villanova “V” and a giant portrait of Jay Wright on it.
Then again, it’s not like Radnor would ever approve the idea.