Concerns over cost of free parking lots rising

28 August 2018

Tamera Twitty

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    Parking prices at UCCS have always been one of the most contested fees students face, yet fees continue to steadily increase.

     Since 1998, the 500 series, or “the free lots,” have been made available to students. The closest 500 series lot to main campus is located on Stanton Road, just outside of the Alpine Village.

    This unpaved lot holds between 250 and 300 spaces. The 500 series stands as an option for students unable to afford on campus parking fees, or those just trying to save money. Each lot in the 500 series has a nearby shuttle stop that bring students to the main campus.

    Some changes are coming to the 500 series parking lots.

    Starting with the Fall 2018 Semester in order to park at the free lot students have to register their vehicles. Although the lot remains free to students at this point, this action by parking and transportation services has raised the question—how long will the free lot actually be free?

     On the subject, Jim Spice, Director of Parking and Transportation said, “Not registering for the free lots is just a safety issue, that can be solved with the LPR technology we already have.”

    “It helps us track who and how many are using the lots,” said Spice, “There is so much we can do with the LPR system that we aren’t right now. For example if you lose your car, the LPR system can find where it was last.”  

    Since 2013, the city has cracked down on stricter regulations around parking in the Cragmor Neighborhood, erecting 22 “no parking” signs in the area. This semester, a road block on Stanton Road has been put up to deter student traffic in the area, and keep students from parking on residential streets. In fact,  students who park there can now be fined up to 85 dollars. On campus parking has become nearly the only option for commuters.

    At this point, there is no reported penalty on students who have not registered, however Parking and Transportation are encouraging all students to register. The process is simple and can be done on the UCCS website.

    The recent construction on the north side of campus including the Ent Center for the Arts and sports facilities have added an interesting new facet to the University’s parking situation.

     Talk about a fee on the 500 series lots came about following the congestion that the new additions have caused. The rumors about removing the free lots were only strengthened this semester when the announcement about required registration was made.

    Undecided major and sophomore, Natalie Shauls, chimed in on the topic saying, “I really hope that the free lot stays free. Parking prices are ridiculous as it is. It’s cool that the school offers us an alternative option.”

    The current state of lot 540 in some ways does not warrant payment.  “We sort or do pay for having to use the free lot. We already have to walk super far to get to class, and the lot isn’t paved. Our cars aren’t necessarily in a protected place either,” said Shauls.

    In response to the rumors, Spice said, “In 1998 the students passed a referendum that requires the University to offer a free parking lot as long as there is a shuttle service on campus. I can’t speak for what happens after my retirement but for now the free lots will remain.”

As previously reported, parking prices are only going to climb in the coming years, in order to pay off the parking structures on campus. The cap for that growth is still unclear, but is currently growing at a rate of 2.6 percent each year. With the growing student population, concerns about having enough space is prominent.

    “For the foreseeable future we will not run out of space. We still have hundreds of unused spaces; it’s not a matter of space it’s a matter of convenience and placement,” said Spice in response to concerns over campus growth.

    Mechanical Engineering junior, Xavier Foster, also agrees that the free lot is a great opportunity for students,.“It doesn’t have to be fancy. Keep it dirt and keep it free,” said Foster.

    Students looking to register their cars for the free lots are encouraged to visit the UCCS Parking Portal online.