Parking has been an issue for many years at Concordia, and the situation continues to worsen as enrollment increases and more vehicles arrive on campus.
The school now has around 2,800 students enrolled and employs about 300 full- and part-time faculty while there are only an estimated 1,730 parking stalls on campus, says Erik Ramstad, assistant director of facilities services. Granted, not everyone has a vehicle and not everyone parks on campus, but it’s safe to say that there is a parking shortage.
The construction of the Knutson Campus Center and growth of the Facilities Management building has especially led to a loss of parking spots in the half Brown, half KCC lot.
Additionally, more students than anticipated requested permits for the west zone, Ramstad said. Since Concordia does not charge for permits and generally grants all requests, the west zone is oversubscribed.
Over the past few years, Brown men were assigned to the Fjelstad-Park Region lot by default. This year, in an attempt to alleviate the west zone oversubscription, Parking Services has requested that Brown resident permit holders volunteer to move to the north zone, which are Fjelstad-Park Region and the Bogstad apartments lots. These north lots have 30-40 open spots on any given weeknight, according to Ramstad. They are seeking 40 volunteers, but have only had about 20 students request to transfer their permits to the north zone so far. Ramstad hopes this will ease the severe congestion in the west zone.
The competition for a spot is also fierce in the west lots, which presents problems for residents of Brown, Livedalen and Hoyum halls.
“I got two tickets during the first week of school because I couldn’t find a spot in the lot,” said sophomore and Brown resident Marnie Rosenheim.
Many wonder why Concordia doesn’t find a long-term solution to the on campus parking situation. The idea of a parking garage on campus interests Ramstad because it is preferable over spreading out, but it also involves many implications. A parking garage would be very expensive, around several thousand dollars per stall. The cost would include the actual construction of the garage, work to make it aesthetically appealing so that it blends in with the rest of campus, as well as ongoing maintenance and additional security.
To alleviate these costs, some might also suggest the idea of paying for parking permits.
“We’ve certainly talked about paying for parking,” Ramstad said. “It’s a struggle because paid parking would need more enforcement and security, which would offset the benefits.”
Sophomore Melissa Orluck argues that Concordia students already pay for parking indirectly through the ticketing of vehicles.
“They say parking at Concordia is free—but it’s not,” she said.
Parking penalties this year range from $7.00 to $200.00.
MSUM students pay for parking permits, but Brown Hall Director Lacey Neuman-Bissonnette notes that many students there opt to not purchase a permit and just park on the street instead, leaving many lots nearly empty.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily a solution that will be received well by everyone,” Neuman-Bissonnette said.
Most students prefer to park in the lots because it’s more convenient, but those who can’t find a spot are sent to park on the streets surrounding campus. But this also poses a problem as cars usually can’t be left in the same spot on the street for more than a couple of days because of the street regulations for garbage pickup and street cleaning. The Moorhead Police Department also generally charges more for parking violations than Parking Services does, and students’ vehicles that suffer vandalism or theft must also report to the Moorhead Police Department since Campus Security does not have jurisdiction off of campus.
With no clear, viable solutions in the works, these parking issues may be here to stay.
Marisa Paulson is a senior and the news & features editor of The Concordian, although she still writes when she can. She plans to attend the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in fall 2011.