Aggieville Parking to Improve

When going out to have a fun time in Aggieville, one of the biggest challenges people face is finding a parking spot. With parking in high demand, there are improvements to be made in the future to ease the struggle of parking in one of Manhattan's populated areas. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Aggieville has something for everyone. From painting pottery to partying the night away, Aggieville is filled with different activities for different kinds of people. But, there’s one major obstacle that everyone is confronted with when heading to Aggieville: finding a parking spot.

Parking is the ultimate challenge for Aggieville’s customers. This issue continues to grow as Aggieville expands while its parking lots do not.

“It’s a natural consequence of growth and density of the city,” Rod Harms, executive director of the Aggieville Business Association, said. “Parking is a normal consequence.”

Mat Droge, the public information officer for the Riley County Police Department, said that “some big parking issues in Aggieville are people parking in colored parking zone and people parking in front of driveways or sidewalks.”

Droge, also known as the “Twitter cop,” gave examples of residents’ cars being trapped in their driveways by the overflow of Aggieville’s parked cars.

“There are colored parking zones for a reason, and that’s to control parking in front of residences so that people who actually live there can park in front of their home,” Droge said.

Action is currently taking place to solve this parking issue.

“The Aggieville Business Association has come to the City Commission with their requests for a parking garage,” Linda Morse, Manhattan city commissioner, said.

Harms also spoke about the possibility of a parking garage for the Aggieville area in the future.

“It is the number one priority of the Aggieville Business Association,” Harms said. “I expect in the next five to 10 years, that the parking issue will be addressed with a parking garage or other facility.”

The future of this possible parking garage lies in the hands of the City Commission. Their votes will decide whether or not the garage will be built in Aggieville.

“Aggieville business owners have come before the commission before,” Mike Dodson, Manhattan city commissioner, said. “It’s (parking garage) put on a docket and considered with other budget items.”

Building a new parking garage in Aggieville could prove to be very costly to the city.

“Parking garages are very desirable but very expensive,” Dodson said. “To get 300 cars parked costs about $5 million.”

The city will have to decide if this cost is worth the additional parking spaces.

Harms confirms saying that it will cost roughly $10,000 for each additional parking space.

While the parking garage is being proposed and negotiated, other quick fixes are taking place to help lessen the strain on Aggieville’s parking.

I think the immediate solution for Aggieville is that the city is just about to expand where the gravel is at the entrance to city park,” Morse said. “That is scheduled to be paved.”

This project will be funded by the mutual funds of K-State and the city of Manhattan.

“When the city annexed K-State, they said there are some projects that are to our mutual advantage, and we’re going to use the sales tax that is generated on the campus for those areas … and the gravel area at the north end of the park is being funded by the City/University Fund,” Morse said.

In another effort to solve the parking issue in Aggieville, the city raised its parking fines from $5 to $15 on Aug. 1. There is a two-hour parking limit in the street and three-hour parking limit in the parking lots. Cars left longer then this are subject to the fine.

“This is to motivate them to park elsewhere, thus freeing up spaces within the Aggieville and Downtown shopping districts for patrons,” Harms said.

In fact, once a parking ticket in Aggieville is received, there is a 72-hour limit to pay the ticket or show up in court, and after that, an additional fee of $10 will be added and a letter will be sent out. This $10 fee is up from the $8 fee it was in the past. After higher fees of $25 and a second letter, a warrant for arrest will be sent out if the ticket is still not paid, according to the City of Manhattan website. According to Harms the increased fines have been successful in improving parking in Aggieville.

“We have seen that there is more parking spaces in the lots, which we want, and less parking with higher turnover in the streets,” Harms said. “The evidence is that it (parking fines) has proved to be positive.”

Aggieville customers can also help solve the parking issue.

“If you plan on drinking, don’t bring your car,” Droge said. “Get a ride from a friend, use Uber, or a taxi.”

Harms also recommends using the SafeRide bus that is available Thursday through Saturday. This program has had an increase in ridership and is a safe alternative to drinking and driving.

Lack of parking spots in Aggieville is still a continuous issue. However, Aggieville and the City Commission are trying to solve the current parking issue by paving current gravel parking lots, increasing parking fines and offering alternative motives of transportation.