Garage will relieve parking, stress wallet

Northern Kentucky University has seen a growth spurt in recent years, with nearly 14,000 students currently enrolled and predictions of more in the future. In an effort to keep up with the growth and minimize frustration for students, the Transportation Advisory Committee recently approved a proposal to build an $18 million parking garage on campus.

“Right now there are not enough spots” to accommodate future growth, said John Rasp, a student representative on the Transportation Advisory Committee.

“We have to plan for the influx of more students,” he said.

The proposed design includes a multi-tiered structure housing 1600 to 1800 parking spaces located on the current site of the soccer field near Albright Health Center. According to Mike Baker, vice president of Administration and Finance, the plan is to build the structure in two phases, with each phase providing approximately 900 spaces and costing $9 million.

“The state will not fund parking structures, especially given the current economic conditions,” Baker said.

The university has been under funded $26 million by the state in recent years and could be facing more cuts this spring – possibly as much as another $4 million.

In light of the current budget crisis facing the university, there is no money in the general fund to be used toward the project, Rasp said.

The committee, made up of students, faculty, staff and administrators, recommended funding the project with an increase in parking fees. The increase – the first since 1996 – would double the parking fees over a two year period, resulting in students paying $96 and faculty/staff $192 for a yearly parking pass.

“We can’t get the money from the state, so the only way is to increase the parking pass fee,” Rasp said.

Lynn Busch, a first year law student at Salmon P. Chase College of Law, supports building a parking structure, even if it means an increase in fees. “I definitely would be willing to pay more for the convenience of knowing that I am assured a safe, closer spot,” she said.

Busch added that NKU should consider structuring parking fees similar to the University of Cincinnati. At UC “you pay less money for the farther spots and more for the closer ones,” she said.

While plans have been approved by the Committee, Baker stressed that they are currently only in the proposal stages. Student Government, the Board of Regents and the President must approve the proposal before it can be set into motion.