February 2, 2016
By Melissa Rohman
Parking at Dominican has been a congested issue for faculty, staff and students. When the hunt for a parking spot on Division Street or settling for a two-hour spot on Park Avenue isn’t possible, parking at the Priory and waiting to take the shuttle has been the dreaded course of action. Last year’s addition of 25 spots has not been enough to keep up with growing enrollment.
“The undergraduate [population] has grown so much and it poses a different problem,” said Dan Bulow, director of buildings and grounds. “When we developed the parking garage, we had it planned for 4,000 students. That was planned for 50 percent undergrad and now we have grown, and our proportions have changed.”
As a school known for its large commuter population, Dominican has struggled with an increase in student drivers and the lack of parking availability, especially on Wednesday mornings between 10 and 11:30 a.m.
“What we try to do is bring in an extra person on Wednesdays to help us in the parking garage, but unfortunately with one way in and one way out we have to close it so people don’t get trapped up on the roof,” said John Tsouchlos, public safety manager. “It gets really bad up there if we don’t catch it. Sometimes 10 cars are waiting to get in and we try to get the information to them as best as possible. We’re doing our best. I’ve talked to public safety at Concordia and they have a problem over there as well.”
Resident and commuter students have had enough with having to spend an excess amount of time looking for available spots, many of which are located in the surrounding neighborhoods blocks away from campus.
“One time I had to run out to get something at the store and came back to find that the resident lot was full,” said graduate student and resident Lisa Keller. “I drove around looking for a spot and finally found a spot on the roof of the parking garage. I had to go back later on and move my car because residents can’t leave their cars in the parking garage.”
“Since the parking lots are sort of informal, people tend to park horribly sometimes taking up two entire spots and forcing everyone around them to do the same,” said sophomore and commuter student Claire Shunk. “A few times I’ve actually been forced to stay on campus and wait hours because someone had parked so close to my car I couldn’t get inside.”
The parking committee, which includes John Tsouchlos, Carol Seley, Trudi Goggin, Dawn Morse and Dan Bulow, would like to assure the Dominican community that the administration cares and is currently working on plans to add more parking on reasonable budget.
“We considered a lot of solutions,” said Bulow. “ We considered raising the price of a permit because what we have is cheap compared to a lot of other schools but then again it is creating more revenue to make more spots.”
Other possible solutions mentioned include transforming the lawn in front of Murray or space behind Parmer into more parking spots. Temporary parking pads have also been considered, though they are not the most economically friendly option.
“We want to get the most bang for our buck and we want it completed in a timely manner,” said Dawn Morse, Dominican’s project manager. “A long-term solution can’t happen overnight. The garage itself was years in the planning and we don’t have space for another one of those, so there are a lot of pieces to consider when planning a permanent solution.”
In the last week, the parking committee has received designs from engineers regarding where additional parking can be added in accordance with River Forest rules and regulations.
“The village of River Forest has a lot to say in the matter,” said Bulow. “They don’t want headlights in any neighbors windows…there are a lot of things that need to be considered. You have to go before the village and ask them to do any construction.”
The designs have been sent out to contractors for pricing and Dominican’s parking committee has been working closely with class scheduling and events.
“We have a very vibrant campus that is a home for our students as well as a place where we hold a variety of functions,” said Bulow. “We try to encourage and offer things in return for parking at the Priory because we know there’s going to be a bigger crunch with events going on at camps. It’s a cultural shift for Dominican.”
Dominican students have been expressing their thoughts, concerns and suggestions regarding owning a parking permit and not being able to find spots.
“When we buy parking permits, it’s not guaranteeing a spot on campus, it’s guaranteeing that you can park on campus if there is a spot,” said Bulow. “Public safety is on top of the situation and trying to help out as much as they possibly can.”
The parking committee is always open to questions, comments, concerns and suggestions regarding new ideas on how to add more parking to campus. To contact them, email John Tsouchlos or Dan Bulow at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.