By Jonathan Salamanca
September 18, 2013
With pressure, complaints and frustration from Dominican drivers about parking on campus, university officials have responded with a solution.
Daniel Bulow, director of building and grounds, has already hired a contractor to excavate areas around the Greenfield Street parking lot and lay down stone for an additional 20 parking spots on campus.
The small project took place this past Friday, with more efforts being made by his office and the university towards making more parking available, Bulow said.
“Slightly more than half of our undergraduate students are commuters, the parking situation has become increasingly difficult,” Residence Life Coordinator and Dominican graduate Kara Williams said. “While it can be frustrating at times, I appreciate that our staff has recognized a need to resolve the problem and is working on immediate and long-term solutions.”
This year, Dominican had its largest incoming freshmen class in history, which Bulow attributes part of the parking congestion to along with the growing commuter population.
“I think it has to do with class scheduling as well,” Bulow said. “Everyone’s coming to campus at one time instead of spreading it out. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we’ve been fine with parking. Monday and Wednesdays between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. is when we have the parking crunch.”
The newly paved stone parking spots near the Greenfield Street lot come with an additional 20 spots. The university opened these additional spaces by allowing staff to park behind the parking garage, a space previously reserved for university guests and an outside contractor.
In total, Dominican has created 40 additional new parking spaces since the beginning of the fall semester.
With the parking garage continuously filled to its capacity of 550 cars, school officials are also facing a new problem. Last week, students were driving up to the roof of the garage without realizing the garage was full. When a line of cars reached the top, they had no way of getting out because of the congestion.
“When the garage gets full, there is no way of communicating that to students,” Bulow said. “We’re looking at electronic signage that will give a count, monitoring the tracks and cars coming in and out. Commercial parking garages have that, but it’s a pretty big expense.”
According to security officials, the university is doing its best to monitor the garage and closing it when it is at capacity.
Security officials have also recommended students to park at the priory campus. Two weeks ago, junior Sara Scheler said she was driving around Main Campus looking for parking when she was advised by security to park at the Priory Campus.
Bulow said additional parking at the Priory Campus might be a serious consideration.
During 2006 and 2007, freshmen resident students were restricted from parking overnight on Main Campus. This was the academic year that the parking garage and Parmer sites were offline for construction work, Bulow stated.
With about 90 open spaces at the Priory Campus, officials are looking at options and incentives to offer mostly residential student parking at the Priory. According to Bulow, the goal would be to open space on Main Campus for commuter students.
“We’ve resisted painting lines on the stone, but the striping of the West lot would ensure people are pulling into one parking spot, and not two,” Bulow said.
Parking space is not at maximum capacity on campus, but it is still a growing problem. Every year, Bulow gets complaints from neighboring homes about Dominican students illegally using and taking up parking along Division Street. So far, Bulow said he has not received any complaints from neighbors this year nor from the River Forest Police Department.