Parking problems persist on campus

Cody Boyer

NMU parking for students, faculty and commuters has started controversy within the university’s student body and employed staff as construction projects have changed parking locations to make way for new additions to the campus.

Mike Bath: Director of Public Safety
Mike Bath: Director of Public Safety

According to NMU Public Safety, parking spaces across campus will be continuing to experience changes as the construction of the New Jamrich building continues to aim for its completion in August 2014. Over the last year, NMU has constructed Lot 29, near the old Jamrich Hall and removed Lot 28, which is the location of the New Jamrich project.

Michael Bath, director of Public Safety and Police Services, said the number of parking spaces has not changed, but the configuration of the lots has experienced quite a bit of location changes.

“We don’t have a parking space shortage,” Bath said. “What we have is a perception issue. Everybody wants the parking spots right by the buildings, so that’s part of the issue that we have.”

NMU has over 6,000 parking spaces on campus, according to Bath, which includes all of the parking located in the immediate campus area and the sports complex. Six lots on campus experienced revisions for the 2013-14 semesters, including Lot 1 near West Hall, Lot 2 near Spooner, Lot 26 near Whitman Hall and on Elizabeth Harden Drive, Lot 33 near Lee Hall and the northwest section of Lot 36 near New Science and Spalding Hall.

Bath said the parking situation is projected to change as construction projects get closer to completion.

“Every time you make a change, you shift the parking,” Bath said. “If you move an office to the next building or department to this building, there is a shift in your parking. It’s kind of like chess pieces. You move them around. Moving one piece might fix the problem here, but it might create another problem over here.”

According to Bath, the Parking and Traffic Committee met earlier in the semester and discussed methods to help students get started with the new semester, at least temporarily.

“For the first week and a half of school, we opened up a couple of rows [in Lot 29] to allow commuters in there,” Bath said. “There are 350 spots right by Whitman Hall. There’s another 280 spots right here [at Public Safety] and there are 300 and some spots behind the library.”

Bath also said while the spaces are all still available and lots have changed due to construction, there are places to park and ways to avoid spending time looking for spots.

“We knew this year was going to be a challenge,”  Bath said. “At 5 p.m., most of our lots open up. Anybody with a registered vehicle can park anywhere from 5 p.m until 2 a.m. From 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., many of our lots close and that’s for plowing purposes with the exception of Lot 11, which is the one behind the library. That is [open] until 3 a.m. because of the overnight study hall hours. We changed that.”

According to the NMU Motor Vehicle Ordinances, Lot 1 will be available to all residents of West Hall with issued parking permits. Lot 2 will be general parking for Spooner Hall residents without time or day restrictions. Lot 26 has been reconfigured into a commuter parking lot and Lot 29 is now a faculty and staff parking lot only, along with Lot 33. Lot 36 will now have a designated area for freshmen and residents in the northwest section.

Jim Thams, Associate Director of Engineering and Planning, said new parking lots are expensive and existing spaces on campus have to also make considerations for handicap parking.

““The parking lot we built last year, Lot 29, the new parking lot over by Jamrich, was $3,000 a (spot),” Thams said. “There has to be additional space for a person, let’s say, who is in a wheelchair so they can open the door, get that chair in there, maneuver into the car, and get the chair into the back of the car. It also has to be adjacent to an ADA-compliant sidewalk.”

For more information about available parking on campus, the NMU Motor Vehicle Ordinance can be found online at www.nmu.edu/publicsafety. The Public Safety Parking Bureau can also be reached at 906-227-1476.