SAC Hears About Parking

May 1, 1998

Nick Marinello

During a special meeting of the Staff Advisory Council held April 9, Ken Dupaquier, director of public safety, and Tony Lorino, senior vice president for operations and chief financial officer, addressed representatives and approximately 20 staff members of the uptown campus on the current status of on-campus parking.

"We have parking on campus," said Dupaquier. "What we don't have is convenient parking." Dupaquier, who suggested that staff members take advantage of parking slots in the Diboll parking garage, said, "everything that can be done on a short-term basis has been done."

In addressing a series of written questions by the SAC concerning parking, Dupaquier noted 17 new parking spaces created behind the Student Health Center at the former site of the physical plant greenhouse, 61 parking spaces resulting from converting Ben Weiner Drive into a one-way street, and 9 spaces created at the former site of the recycling center.

In addition, six spaces were gained by restriping the Zemmuray parking lot. Those suggestions were among several short-term solutions offered by a consultant contracted by Tulane to analyze parking on the uptown campus. According to Lorino, GCR and Associates have provided the university with a list of short-term considerations and are scheduled to deliver a report of suggested long-term solutions, including possible site recommendations for a new parking garage in May.

Other planned short-term solutions include an expanded number of parking places on Library Road (behind Jones Hall) and the possibility of more spaces along Newcomb Place when it is resurfaced and restriped this summer. The parking crunch was somewhat relieved this winter when development staff, including 50 parking-permit holders, moved to an off-campus site.

In addition, construction on the new Mayer Residences wrapped up, allowing parking to return to Drill Road. According to Lorino, more spaces will become available this summer when staff from purchasing and receiving are relocated to the former site of Rhoms Floral Designs in the Riverbend area. Still, some staff members were not satisfied that enough was being done to accommodate staff parking, especially on the south side of Willow Street.

"Mr. Dupaquier characterizes the parking situation as 'inconvenient,'" said Robin Stead, SAC representative for District 4 (Stern, Boggs, and mechanical, civil and electrical engineering buildings). "I think it goes beyond that. For my constituencies, being unable to park within a reasonable distance of their workplace on a daily basis is very frustrating."

Several staff members at the meeting noted that their time sheets had been docked due to extra time spent finding a place to park. "On one hand," said Stead of the meeting, "I found it encouraging that so much planning was in the works. On the other hand, I found it discouraging that all the solutions and additional parking places keep creeping northward [away from the front of campus]." "Opportunities for parking on the front campus are extremely limited," says Lorino.

Lorino added that he had made a proposal to Loyola University to lease two additional floors of its new parking garage located adjacent to Engineering Road but that proposal was rejected by the Loyola administration. An additional attempt to open up parking by demolishing two university-owned houses on S. Robertson and Willow streets was also thwarted, said Lorino, when neighboring residents petitioned the City Planning Commission to deny the university's request for a "conditional-use" zoning variance.

"The neighbors don't want cars parked in their back yards," said Lorino. "It is that simple." The university is also currently awaiting a demolition permit from the city in order to raze the old Alumni Development Information Services house on Willow Street for the purpose of creating additional parking space. "All I can do is to try to reflect what the people I represent tell me," said Stead, who rides a bike to work. "The parking problems wax and wane as various events come up to obstruct parking."

Stead, who says she has been "studying this issue for a long time," said she would like to see the administration consider new ideas, including opening Law and Engineering roads to both faculty and staff. Stead also wouldn't mind seeing minor infringements on campus green space, such as in front of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library along Freret Street. "We need little, creative solutions here and there," she said. Parking is the most consistent morale issue that I hear about from staff in my district."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000