By Noah Goldfarb
With only 2,265 spots on campus and around 7,000 faculty, staff, and students coming to the school per day, parking is without question a significant problem at Worcester State.
In a recent study, the school found that the commuter population turns over two-and-a-half times per day, meaning that over twice per day a completely new set of commuters must search for a place to park.
This constant need for spots to open up only exacerbates the problem of limited parking, and stresses out administrators, police, and students alike.
“It’s really sad to see that students try to get to class on time, but they simply can’t due to parking restrictions,” said sophomore communication major Shayla Shoeneberger.
One alternate solution is for drivers to seek out street parking.
According to Carl Herrin, assistant to the president for international, community and governmental affairs, there are over 1,000 on-street parking spots in “close proximity” to campus.
Even though these 1,000 spots alleviate some of the stress on the limited on-campus parking options, residential neighbors of the university often bring complaints to campus police and administration.
It is the position of the school as well as the city, however, that students have the same rights as the neighbors when it comes to street parking.
“[On campus students] are residents just like everybody else,” said Herrin.
In trying to find a balance between the wants and needs of residents, commuters, faculty, staff, neighbors, and all the other groups affected by the parking situation, it has become clear to the school that not all groups can be satisfied at the same time.
“We can’t appease everyone,” said Jason White, manager of parking and transportation. “That’s the hardest thing.”
Not only do members of the WSU community have trouble finding parking spots on a daily basis, they also have to worry about the costs of parking on campus, whether it be parking passes or tickets.
According to White, the number of parking passes given out is dictated by how many students the academic departments accept per year.
“I don’t tell [Academics] what we’re going to be handing out,” said White. “If [Academics] accepts them, they get the passes. That’s why our university is first come, first serve parking.”
Those who park on campus without the proper pass or decal — such as Resident Goddard, Commuter, or Adjunct Faculty decals, to name a few — are subject to citations and/or towing.
While White said that towing is, “not a step we take right away.” The WSU police department has a dedicated parking enforcement officer to administer tickets as a deterrent for violating the parking rules and regulations.
In the 2015 fiscal year alone, $88,000 was collected through these tickets, and in the 2016 fiscal year, tickets raised $99,000. This money is deposited into a trust fund to be used for scholarships.
According to Herrin, the school has been working on adding spaces to campus whenever possible.
In 2015, a proposed plan for Worcester State to purchase the fields behind Chandler Magnet School for conversion to a 250-spot parking lot was killed by the neighboring residents before it was ever officially proposed.
Now, over a year later, Herrin considers the Chandler Magnet School plan to be a “settled matter.”
Herrin said that although the school is back in a “generally investigative mode,” regarding new solutions to the parking problem, there are no solid plans for the near future. Herrin said the school is entertaining the possibility of additional parking garage capacity, “but there is no fixed timeline to do so.”
In Herrin’s eyes, the two biggest issues for a new parking garage would be location and cost, neither of which “lend themselves to an immediate conclusion.”
“If we started today trying to formally plan,” said Herrin, “this year’s first year class probably would not see the product by the time they graduate.”
Although a new parking lot or garage might be in Worcester State’s future, in the meantime, there is still an issue which students, police officers, and administration alike agree needs to be addressed.
“Parking on campus is unorganized and there’s not enough of it,” said sophomore history major Bridget Braun. “Especially on-campus parking for residents.”
Limited parking affects every member of the Worcester State community, but it is the belief of the school that with cooperation and flexibility, the problem is conquerable.
“There’s always a compromise,” said White. “There’s always a solution.”