As the blue construction fences have risen across campus, members of the SUNY New Paltz campus community believe the number of yellow parking tickets slapped on their windshields have as well.
On the heels of the ongoing renovation of Wooster Science Building, Sojourner Truth Library and Route 32 (Lot 28) causing parking spots to be deleted for construction as part of SUNY New Paltz’s Site & Landscape Master Plan, SUNY New Paltz faculty and students alike believe the amount of parking tickets being distributed has risen.
According to SUNY New Paltz’s Site & Landscape Master Plan, before major construction began the campus had 42 lots available with a total of 3,082 spaces. Fifteen of the original 42 lots or 1,374 parking spots would be “significantly reduced or altered.”
The plan also specifies that seven new parking lots will be added to the campus, which would provide 1,125 spots.
In total, the campus would lose 249 parking spots at the end of the construction, according to the plan.
Written requests by The New Paltz Oracle to find out the total number of parking tickets and ticket appeals over the course of the construction time span were not answered by the Parking Committee by time of publication.
Despite the reason, members of SUNY New Paltz’s staff and student body alike believe an increased number of tickets have been given out since the construction began.
After an acid reflux-related injury forced Walker to have one of her lungs removed, she found it necessary to apply for a handicapped permit to limit the amount she needs to walk from her car to her office in the cold weather.
However, she said over the years of her working in various residence halls across campus she has received “many” parking tickets she considers to be unjust.
For years, she has appealed the tickets she received for her perceived violations. But, Walker said as the construction continues around the campus, there has been an increase in frequency of her unjust tickets.
“You come to work and you expect to park…why should we have to pay for a parking pass and we can’t even park where we want to? Especially when it’s legal,” Walker said. “They’ve done it in every building I’ve worked in.”
Walker said that between herself and fellow Capen Hall custodial members, they have received a total of seven parking tickets for expired permits, wrong tags and even parking in a handicapped spot without a valid permit.
Walker said their appeals process was slow-moving, and at times nonexistent.
Nigel Alladen, a cleaner in Capen Hall who received a handicapped permit for a back injury, knows the appeals process well.
Alladen’s most recent ticket, issued on Oct. 16 of this year, carried a $25 fine and stated that Alladen’s car was cited for an expired permit. Documents obtained by The New Paltz Oracle show his Faculty/Staff parking permit does not expire until August of 2013.
“I wonder why they would give out tickets at all to someone in a handicapped spot when they have a legit pass for handicapped people,” Alladen said. “What is the reason?”
Julie Majak, the current chair of the Parking Committee, said Alladen’s ticket was brought to her and Parking Clerk Nancy Sleight on Monday and his supposed violation was approved for an appeal and his fine was deleted.
“As soon as we saw what their concern was, we of course rectified it,” Majak said. “It was obvious, he was approved [for his appeal].”
The Parking Committee is a forum where parking concerns consistent with the campus master plan can be heard, as well as an opportunity for solutions to be discussed, according to an email sent out by President Donald Christian on Oct. 3.
“This is a longstanding committee that advises the administration on parking; it does not make major decisions or set policy. It also hears concerns from the campus community about parking,” Christian wrote in his email.
On Sept. 12, Alladen was issued a different ticket for parking behind Capen Hall.
However, after appealing the issue with SUNY New Paltz Parking, his ticket was cleared after Director of Residence Life Corinna Caracci signed a letter stating Alladen and Walker were given permission to park in the spots after 5 p.m.
Walker said she believes the seven tickets her and Alladen have received this semester are because a lower amount of parking spots are scattered across campus due to construction.
Walker and Alladen said they have heard similar stories of fellow staff members receiving tickets despite their possession of valid passes, and hope the school can help them as soon as possible.
Students who drive to campus have similar views to those of Walker and Alladen.
Cass Hoblitz, a fourth-year sociology major, said she believes the number of tickets the campus community has received since construction has started to rise because people are forced to park illegally just to get to class on time.
“I think we’re parking more haphazardly because we’re in a rush and don’t know where to find available parking,” Hoblitz said. “ I occasionally see people making up their own parking spots in random corners of the lots just to get to class on time.”
Hoblitz said she received a ticket for parking overnight behind Bouton Hall near a sign that said “Commuters After 5,” but didn’t realize that cars could be ticketed between 2 and 6 a.m. because a bush was covering part of the sign.
Hoblitz said she appealed the ticket, but was denied.
“As it is I have no idea where I can or cannot park anymore, but they aren’t keeping up the signs,” Hoblitz said. “You would think they would be a little more lenient considering how much they’re inconveniencing the students.”
Majak said if students or staff have issues with tickets they have received on campus, they should come speak to the Parking Committee immediately.
“We welcome anyone to come into the office to discuss their matter,” Majak said. “If there is any way the staff can help them, they welcome it. They can get their matter resolved and speak to someone who has firsthand knowledge.”
Walker said she thinks the solution is
“With all the commotion and construction, why are they even bothering with parking tickets?” Walker said. “It shouldn’t even be an issue with all of this going on.”