Student parking is an evergreen issue on the SUNY New Paltz campus, especially this academic year. Last semester, nearly 200 faculty spots were also eliminated with the construction of a new engineering building on a former lot. The campus has, however, begun the construction of an additional lot adjacent to the old Route 32 parking lot.
There are currently 17 parking lots designated for faculty, staff and visitors on campus, six designated for commuters and visitors, and the rest are spread out to accommodate residents, visitors and faculty/staff, according to the parking office’s website.
Unfortunately, with the construction of a new academic building, parking has become tougher to come by, especially for commuters.
Some students resort to trailblazing their own spots to make it to class on time. The number of parking citations has nearly doubled since last year. Students who are unable to pay within the 10 day deadlinecan have their accounts held, preventing them from scheduling classes.
We at The New Paltz Oracle appreciate the importance put on the construction of additional academic facilities and their benefits to the student body, but increased availability and proximity of parking for commuter students would benefit students greatly. The new parking lot across from Route 32 is a step in the right direction, but we hope that more will be done to accommodate the number of students who rely on parking every day in order to attend classes.
Although we at The Oracle appreciate the campus’ goals of sustainability and safety, we do not believe that the removal of parking lots is the best answer. The number of lots available has little effect on a particular student’s need or choice to commute and the reduction of parking spaces encourages unsafe driving habits, such as rushing or distraction as a result of scanning for a remaining spot.
The campus allowed the lot by Lenape Hall to be split with commuters and residents this year. Lenape Hall is one of the farthest lots from the academic buildings. In addition to the safety issues previously mentioned, it also poses additional unnecessary health risks in the grueling winter months by increasing a commuter’s distance from their car to their class. Students are not only exposed to cold and harsh conditions, but pedestrian activity is also increased while drivers are already subject to unfavorable weather conditions and poor visibility.
Lenape Hall has been referred to as an “all purpose” lot, which we are in favor of. However, we believe that it would benefit the campus community to have at least one of these types of lots closer to the academic buildings so that commuters can park and get to class more efficiently. As of the Fall 2017 semester commuters do have the most parking spots on campus statistically, but having additional spots closer to the buildings would be appreciated.
Students, however, are not the only ones in parking peril; currently, there are only two small lots designated for faculty parking near the Athletic and Wellness Center, just enough for the building staff.
Athletic and Wellness staff are not the only faculty and staff that benefit from use of the building. Exercise is an important part of personal health and all faculty and staff should be able to access the Athletic and Wellness Center and its products and services conveniently.
This 2017-18 academic year, SUNY New Paltz elected to raise the price of student parking passes from $60 a year to $80. This is a substantial hike. Although $80 for an academic school year is not as pricey as other schools, commuters fill a large percentage of the student body, it is frustrating to have to pay more for less convenient and available parking spaces. The construction of the Route 32 lot will help, but it is still an expensive price tag for a college student responsible for other bills, food and other necessary expenses.
We understand that increases are to be expected and, especially with renovations to dormitory buildings and academic buildings being repaired and constructed, fees are likely to go up. However, $60 is better than $80 for a school year, and if the changes were absolutely necessary, they should have been imposed after the new lot was finished and available to students instead of during the construction period.
We commend the school for their efforts to make the parking situation easier, as well as prioritizing the environment and student safety by putting parking lots for commuters and residents farther away from the more congested areas on campus. However we strongly ask that the difficulty commuters face be considered in any decisions related to additional parking on and closer to campus.