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Parking Changes To Be Made on RC Campus

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With housing selection for the 2011-2012 school year beginning this week, many students were left to ponder if it would be worth it to live in their chosen dorm due to the impending changes as to where they would be able to park their car.  Roanoke College Campus Safety emailed all students earlier this week and informed them that before picking where you live, it is important to realize that you may be at a disadvantage as where you will be able to keep your car.

 Parking is not a new problem on the RC campus.  Many students and faculty complain about the difficulties of finding a place to leave their car.  Director of Campus Safety, Tom Turner, said that at Roanoke it is “not a lack of parking, just a lack of convenient parking.” 

The set-up of the campus has always been to have parking around the exterior of the campus so the middle part can remain green and pedestrian friendly.  The residential students are typically designated parking around the outer perimeter, and faculty and commuters students are allowed on the interior, since they are coming in and out of campus on a regular basis. 

   With all the new construction plans beginning, Turner said this is a good time to look at the parking situation as a whole on the Roanoke campus.  A parking task force, made up of two faculty members, two staff members and two students, was created to help come up with changes to alleviate much of the problems people are finding.  The task force is headed by Assistant Dean of Student, Brian Chisolm.  The group has been taking suggestions from students and faculty and hopes to have all of the decisions on what is to be changed ready by April 4.  As of now, everything is still up in the air as to what the changes will be.

  Turner has found that one of the main concerns about parking comes from those commuter students who are forced to park very far away while residents get the good spaces up front.

  “Residential students typically do not drive every day,” Turner said. “Many commuters tell me that all the good spaces are taken by cars that don’t get moved.  I look out my window and see these cars in the exact same spot every day.  That is something we want to fix because if you’re not using your car everyday there is no need to take a spot from someone who is.”

The new parking lot being built off of Hawthorne Street is one thing that will help alleviate those problems posed by commuters.  The lot, which is said to hold around 319 cars, will be for residents of both the CAR dormitory as well as the new dorms, which are to begin being constructed soon after graduation of this year. 

  Once the demolition begins for the new dorms, the new parking lot will begin being used so students staying for May Term and Summer Sessions will have a place to park.  Even though it seems far away, Turner is assured the lot will be very safe.  The school is installing two emergency blue lights.

“We’re not worried about people not having a place to park, we’re mostly worried about people not using [the Hawthorne Park lot] because it seems so far away,” Turner said.  “This year, only 116 students in the CAR complex have a car.  We don’t want that huge parking lot to go to waste.”

 One of the suggestions given to the task force was to designate different parking lots to different dorms, and giving residents of each dorm different parking  stickers so they know they will have a space whenever they leave and come back.

  With the new parking lot being used, many other existing parking lots around campus will turn into solely commuter lots.  The task force has not yet come to a decision as to which lots those will be.

Turner said as of next year, the lack of parking will not be an issue, but it could come up again In that time, after the new dorms are built, the entire Bowman building and parking lot surrounding it will be demolished and replaced with the new Cregger Community Center.  Students living in Sections will no longer have that parking lot right outside of their door. 

 As of now, it is uncertain when the construction of the new Community Center will begin, but it should be sometime in the next five years. 

The main thing the school did not want to do is take the privilege of having a car away from students.  Turner said that many years ago that was the case, as freshmen were not allowed to have cars, but the school will not go back to something like that. 

 “Many schools do not allow freshmen or students who live within a certain number of miles from the school to have cars, but we felt that that could be a negative in attracting students, and many freshmen do need cars.  We did not want to take that right away from anyone” Turner said. 

 Turner also pointed to the fact that the Roanoke Valley as a whole has a lack of public transportation, so the only way to get anywhere for students is with a car.

  Roanoke’s biggest problem with parking is the fact that the school mostly landlocked, and there are no big expanses around the exterior to build huge parking lots.  The changes being made to parking will be conveyed to students before the end of the school year.