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177-Spot Parking Lot No Longer Reserved for Students

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Dylan Mattson thought he was driving into a student parking lot on his first day of class. He wasn’t.

“Wait what?” Mattson, a junior accounting student, recounted thinking while looking at a State Annex sign. The sign read “Flex Parking” for faculty and staff eight hours during weekdays, except for events.

Last semester, he parked in the 177-spot lot. Back then, it was reserved for students only.

“Well, holy damn bro, I have to walk so much farther,” said Mattson. “Why would they do that? That’s just mean.”

Pressure on faculty and staff zones, parking utilization studies, and a greater number of daytime events over the years have led Mass Transit and Parking (PMTS) to repurpose the lot. Built in 2011, State Annex was originally designed to accommodate event parking.

The recent shift won’t take a toll on student parking capacity, said Jason Jones, director of PMTS. Dutch Quad, he said, regularly provides additional space when other lots are at maximum capacity.

“It is very common that the commuter student has to walk or be shuttled from offsite locations,” said Jones. “Do you feel the guests or visitors shouldn’t be provided closer parking or should they be in the far reaches [of campus]?”

Chelsi Riley, a junior biology student, considers the reassignment a setback for commuter students. Having attended early classes over the last two years, Riley often relied on the lot for available spots.
“It’s an extra couple of minutes,” she said. “But if you’re running late, those extra minutes are a lot.”

Since going into effect, the lot reassignment has grabbed the attention of top student leadership. The Graduate Student Association received complaints from students displeased with the change last week.

GSA President Dylan Card and Student Association President Jerlisa Fontaine met in late August to discuss the reassignment. Both leaders will talk to Jones this Thursday.

“We both thought it was unfair considering that students complain about parking already,” said Card. “Why are they going and assigning faculty and staff spots to places that have been student spots?”

Fontaine declined to comment on the reassignment until she learns more from PMTS.

Meanwhile, Jarrett Altilio, chair of the SA senate, is vying for Jones to speak at a future senate meeting. Altilio recently called PMTS a “cash cow” on Twitter. Parking tickets make up for 10 percent of PMTS’s revenue.

Attilio’s Phi Alpha Delta counterpart and SA senator-at-large, Anna Agnes, believes the lot’s current signage isn’t enough to detract students from getting ticketed.

Signage will become more prevalent once ticketing begins, PMTS reported. The lot is currently unticketed. Students in flex parking will receive a zero-dollar warning citation until month’s end, an attempt to spread awareness of the new policy.

“I feel like it’s a lack of communication,” said Agnes. “I feel like they should’ve sent out an email saying, ‘Hey, just you know — don’t park here.’”

An email will be sent out when ticketing begins. Jones believes students wouldn’t be attentive to email in the beginning of the semester.

For Elisa Mannino, a junior marketing student, the change is slight. Mannino uses State Annex when student lots near Colonial Quad are filled up.
“I don’t really care,” she said. “It’s just a longer walk which I don’t mind.”

According to PMTS, State Quad has 130 student spots open on high traffic days. Altogether, it has 968 student parking spots. It’s the second largest student parking lot on campus (in comparison, Dutch Quad has nearly 230 more student spots).

On the uptown campus, there are roughly 4,700 student spots, 1,500 faculty and staff spots, and less than 200 visitor spots. With student, faculty, and staff numbers expected to increase, PMTS has had talks adding a lot nearby Indian Quad to open up space.

At an SA meeting last semester, Interim President James Stellar suggested that the university could construct a garage to meet parking demands ahead. Six years back, a parking garage exploration committee deemed that a potential structure was not essential on the main campus.

Incoming President Havidán Rodríguez in an interview after Convocation said that he plans to evaluate parking concerns as student and faculty populations rise. Rodríguez, who has taken administrative roles at several research institutions across the country over the last 25 years, called parking “top five of the list” of common campus issues.

“So we’ll also have to look at the infrastructure and look at how we can make investments to improve the infrastructure not only in terms of parking, but in terms of a variety of other things that we’re developing as an institution of higher education,” he said.

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Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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