New Center: More Parking Problems

Reported by Ian Snively

Exiting the Bon Appetít cafe, you can see the massive dirt pile surrounded by chain fencing. Construction workers keep busy there during the week building George Fox University’s (GFU) new student activity center. 

The center will open in fall 2018, covering 40,000 square feet of space. 

The only issue is that the center removed 120 parking spots, according to Ed Gierok, Director of Security and Emergency Management. 

Parking has always been a complicated issue for GFU— the university even said so themselves on a page of GFU’s website detailing new parking changes. Luckily, this year the University made efforts to make parking easier for students. 

The page states that the campus spent $750,000 on 245 new parking spaces and restructured their permit system to “reduce the need to hunt through various lots to find parking.” GFU also added more parking along the bordering streets of the university. 

“Currently, the university has 1587 parking spots on campus, including the commuter lot on 99W,” said Gierok. “That number is based on the spots currently lost from the construction of the student activity center. This number does not include the street parking or Austin lot near the soccer/lacrosse field.”

The website also states that “there is now a free permit option for those interested in saving money by parking in the new lot at Austin Field off of Crestview Drive (near the Austin Sports Complex).” Gierok said that the lot was a new spot for parking this year for students. 

“It was decided last spring that we would allow resident students to park there for free because of the distance to campus and the fact that there would not be shuttle service,” he said. “It was also developed for students that registered late and were unable to purchase a resident permit. This year we had to limit the number of resident permits due to the loss of so much parking, and in an effort to provide parking for all students, not just the residents.” 

But things did not go according to plan. 

“Unfortunately,” said Gierok, “students have not taken advantage of the ‘Free Permit’ option, and many of those that were required to register for that permit have decided to ignore the parking policies and ditch [their cars] in various places on or near campus. We, security, will pick up or drive someone to/from their Austin vehicle after 5:00 p.m. if they call.” 

And that brings us back to the new activity center. Even though Gierok estimates there will be about 100 parking spaces created after the completion of the student activity center, ideally the activity center should have been put in the Austin lot, and extra parking should have been placed where the center is now.

Perhaps plans for the center existed before the lot was available for the campus, but it seems students are not willing to park so far away from academic buildings. 

According to GFU Provost Linda Samek, the university plans to add a new residence hall near Futon and Villa road, close to where Brandt Hall is located. Hopefully this will provide new spaces for students to park. But this addition will more likely just increase the student populous, increasing demands for a scarce resource like parking.

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