A Peek Beyond The Horizon

Most things brought from home to school fit in a backpack, a purse or a pocket. Notebooks, makeup, laptops and textbooks; all are easy to carry on person throughout a day at school.

A car is not.

Students and faculty who commute to SUNY New Paltz with their own vehicle need somewhere to leave it for the day; hence the magical invention of parking lots.

Part of the Facilities Master Plan for SUNY New Paltz is to eliminate the majority of parking lots located within the interior of campus and have parking on the periphery and expand lots already on the exterior. With the exception of the large faculty lot outside the Student Union Concourse – the removal of which may not happen for some time and has not yet been planned out or funded – this plan has become a reality.

According to Facilities Management Assistant Vice President John Shupe, the purpose of this is to create a pedestrian friendly campus. This means preventing people from driving all throughout campus, often quickly, to find a parking space.

The West lot, located next to the Athletic and Wellness Center, was originally a resident student only lot but was opened to commuters last semester. With the addition of the Wallkill lot on the South Side Loop and the expansion of the Rt. 32 lot, there are currently 3031 spaces on campus with 250 unavailable due to construction, according to Shupe.

Shupe said that the majority of spaces on the interior of campus and close to the buildings are handicap designated spaces. Although unlike commuter, faculty/staff and resident parking permits, handicap passes are issued by local municipalities. Shupe said this means that the university cannot monitor who has one and in turn, who parks in those spots, legally.

Further expansion plans for the Rt. 32 lot are also underway. In December of 2013, the university purchased the property at 82 Rt. 32 – the second house on the south side of the Rt. 32 lot, before the University Police station.

Director of Facilities Design and Construction John McEnrue said that the property will soon undergo a feasibility study to help determine a practical and sustainable way to expand the lot to behind the house. McEnrue said the house itself will remain for any number of uses from office space to housing guest lecturers.

Parking spots next to the new science building will become available when construction is complete. A new service entrance from Plattekill Avenue will also open with the new building, according to Shupe.

In keeping with the eco-friendly goal of the Master Plan, parking lots are being equipped with bioswales.

These are all natural water draining and filtration systems, according to the plan. They will recycle rainwater and filter out pollutants for surrounding agriculture.

McEnrue said that when it rains, flat concrete surfaces such as parking lots are at risk because the water slowly seeps into the ground through the concrete adding pollutants and eroding the lot itself. Bioswales will help alleviate some of the water and the risk to the lots and the plants.

Fourth-year communication disorders major and commuter Kelly McErlean said she has a very difficult time finding a spot after 10 a.m.

“If you have class at 11 a.m., it is impossible to find a spot,” McErlean said. “I usually just go straight to the Wallkill lot near the gym.”

Parking committee counts indicate that on a daily basis there are between 100-300 open spaces, according to Julie Majak, head of the committee.