Changes to Parking Policy
The changes made to parking lot policies at Marist College have offered students more options and flexibility in parking than they have ever seen before, according to Safety and Security Director John Blaisdell.
Commuter students had the Beck and McCann parking lots available to them last year, now they have the entire east side of campus. Both sides of Beck, Upper and Lower West Cedar, 51 Fulton, and the Fulton tennis court parking lots are all options for commuters. They can also park in faculty lots after 5:30 p.m. and on weekends.
“Parking should be easier, friendlier, and should offer more flexibility. You need flexibility during all this construction,” Blaisdell said.
Residents are no longer assigned to a designated parking zone, but can keep their car in any lot labeled “Resident.” This includes all of the above mentioned commuter lots, along with Lower New, Hoop lot, St. Ann’s, and the North end Gartland lots.
“Residents had a permit near their residency only before this change. If they wanted to move their car during the day, they couldn’t,” said Blaisdell
The Midrise parking lot remains reserved for visitors and for Admissions purposes. Faculty lots remain Foy, Dyson, Fontaine, and since the new construction, the Steel Plant and Allied Health. 69 West Cedar is also a faculty lot. To park in Donnely, even faculty need a permit.
Faculty also have access to the same flexibility in parking that students have. Any lot with F/S on it is open for them.
In spite of this added flexibility for parking, more students are being issued parking tickets than in previous years. Security generally gives students this first week to register their vehicles, and after that begin distributing tickets. For the first two weeks of September last year, 371 tickets were issued to students, less than this year’s 546.
Blaisdell reiterated that fined parking tickets are not to generate revenue.
“It’s about changing behavior. I have no idea how much we generate, it goes to the general fund of the college,” he said.
In the past, he has worked with students that had financial issues to pay off the tickets in other ways.
SGA President Joseph Sarci’s proposal to offer community service as an alternative isn’t an entirely new idea. Blaisdell has allowed for community service to substitute the usual sum -anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on the infraction- in incidences of financial hardship or, in the case of one student, an insurmountable number of tickets.
“The accumulation of fines was so large, he did about a week’s worth of community service, about 40 hours, to pay off the fine,” Blaisdell said.
He has met with Sarci several times and is very open to community service, so long as it is substantial enough to alter behavior.
“Ultimately, we are not on the fine end of this. Many others have to sign off on this for it to change,” Blaisdell said.
In response to the potential idea of raising the credit requirement to have a parking permit for campus, Blaisdell feels it would be unnecessary.
“We have to be careful about something like that. Right now we have adequate parking. In the spring, when a few hundred students rise to the eligibility for parking rights, we’ll see. But for now it feels right.”
For students that disagree with this sentiment, Blaisdell believes that student drivers aren’t taking advantage of the available resources; namely, there is an over-dependence on McCann. He theorizes there is a “psychological barrier” to Rt. 9; students and faculty alike avoid parking across the highway.
There are daily audits of the parking lots at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. to determine how many spots are available in each lot. Lower West Cedar, while available to all permit types, remains underused.
“I’d wager if you counted your steps from Lower West to Lowell Thomas, it would be a shorter walk than from McCann,” Blaisdell hypothesized.
To get from the middle of the Lower West Cedar parking lot to the front glass doors of Lowell Thomas, the average driver would have to take about 744 steps (about 0.34 miles.) This is shorter than walking from the back area of the McCann lot, about 907 steps (0.41 miles.) In the largest portion of the McCann lot, the step count is only about 696. The distance is comparable between the two lots, but Beck is still the winner by this measurement (455 steps/0.20 miles).