It’s a concern that’s been voiced by students at events such as the Student Government Association student forum, it’s something that some students are not big fans of and it’s something that’s always first come, first serve: campus parking.
Many students probably know the struggle of trying to get the closest parking spot to the building that they need to be in and sometimes that distance is a hike.
Student Government Association President Derek Goldfuss said he thinks the main issue with parking is the distance from the lots to the buildings.
“I know many times I’ve had the option to go park by the arena but I’m not a fan of walking that far,” Goldfuss said.
Goldfuss was in attendance at the most recent student forum that took place on March 28. He said that the most common complaint voiced by students was the lack of parking.
“I believe that there was probably a significant amount, half a dozen I’d say, that had concerns about parking,” Goldfuss said.
Also in attendance at the forum were faculty and Laramie County Community College President Dr. Joe Schaffer as well as other members of the President’s Cabinet. Goldfuss said that Schaffer seemed to have an interest in the issue.
With the handful of campus construction projects that are imminent, a few changes are coming that will impact campus parking.
When it comes to the future residence hall, previous plans put it to the east side of the existing residence hall, where the residence hall parking lot is currently located. Consequently, that parking lot would have been relocated to the west with this new addition.
At a special Board of Trustees meeting on April 9, it was announced that the future residence hall will now go to the west side of the main residence hall. With this change in location, the current residence hall parking lot will be retained where it’s at currently.
Vice President of Administration and Finance Rick Johnson said that the location of the future residence hall was changed because of cost overruns.
“We were coming in too high over budget with it here (in it’s originally planned location),” Johnson said. “In the process of trying to figure out how to get the thing into budget, our contractor realized that if we moved it over here (to the new location), we could save maybe $1.5 million.”
Johnson explained that the ground is more sloped in the original location, and that there are utilities under the ground that would have needed to be moved if the original plan had been carried out.
A new parking lot will be paired with the future residence hall as well so that students who will be in that hall will have parking without creating a strain on current parking availability on campus.
Johnson said that there will be enough spots for three quarters of the new residence hall occupancy in the new lot.
“We’re building it (the parking lot) consistent with our current state. Right now, if you look at residence hall occupants and the number of spaces for the residence hall, about three quarters have cars,” Johnson said.
When looking at the construction duration of the future performing arts center, Johnson said that the loss of parking will be similar to what it was while the Ludden Library was undergoing renovations.
“Remember when we were doing the library, there was a construction trailer set up just north of the library; we’ll have that again, just north of the Fine Arts, so just a little bit to the west,” Johnson said. “So, there’ll be a little bit of parking disturbed there.”
Johnson also said that with construction sites, there needs to be a lay-down zone for the building materials and that a small amount of those materials will be inside the fence like it was with the library.
“I don’t see the north side of campus getting disrupted any more than we had when we had the library project,” Johnson said.
Johnson also mentioned that there are plans to resurface the older lots that have diagonal parking with parallel parking so that more of the allotted space can be utilized.
Contrary to what some students have voiced, Johnson said that he doesn’t get parking complaints very frequently.
“I rarely get a parking complaint,” Johnson said. “I can think of maybe one or two times at the start of a fall semester when CCI has a lot going on, so that lot is pretty full with people not going to school; they’re at some conference or something. I might hear grumblings here and there.”
Sophomore Music Major Grace Lowry said that she thinks more parking should be offered because there’s not enough parking for students.
“I feel like there’s not enough parking. Well, now that the library is finished, there’s a lot more parking, but I still feel like it’s pretty limited on certain days and certain times,” Lowry said.
Though there’s a common complaint of not enough spaces being offered, Johnson said that he doesn’t believe there’s a parking issue on campus because, although many lots appear full, especially at the start of a fall semester, there are many other excess lots that are never full.
Johnson used the parking lot next to the Arena as an example. He said that no one wants to park in that lot because they don’t want to park far away from where they’re trying to go on campus.
“Here’s how I kind of see our campus situation: We don’t have a parking problem. There are times, which is usually at the start of the fall semester, where we feel kind of full … campus would have to expand a pretty enormous amount to have a true parking problem,” Johnson said.
Johnson also explained that the idea of the new residence hall is to expand enrollment at the college and that the lot included in the plans is to help accommodate for that predicted increase.
According to Physical Plant Director Bill Zink, there are just over 1,700 parking spaces on the Cheyenne campus in total, including reserved spaces. In the fall 2017 semester, there was a headcount of 2,237 students on the Cheyenne main campus, according to a 2017-18 enrollment report found on the college’s website.
Overall, campus parking will not be as affected as it would have been if the location of the future residence hall wouldn’t have been moved and the construction of the performing arts center will have the same effect on parking as did the library construction.