K-State plans ahead for future parking concerns

(Graphic Audrey Hockersmith)

Construction projects on K-State’s campus as a part of K-State 2025 will eliminate over 40 percent of the current parking spaces across campus, according to a 2015 parking study released by K-State.

Administrators are now seeking public input about the study, as well as forming the work group, according to a March 14 K-State Today release.

The K-State Campus Parking and Transportation study details the university’s current situation and plans for parking and transportation issues that may arise from the university’s growth and from further completion of the Campus Master Plan.

The study’s purpose was to evaluate existing parking and transit at K-State and develop recommendations that could be implemented over the course of the next several years.

“The study is a starting point,” Darwin Abbott, director of parking services, said. “We need to work with the university to find out what they need and what they want.”

Some of the construction projects within the K-State Master Plan will be built on existing parking spaces, reducing the overall number of spaces available and increasing the demand for parking near the core of campus.

According to the study, almost 4,900 of the 11,250 parking spaces across campus will be removed due to construction projects related to the plan.

To ease this loss, the study indicates the potential construction of a four-story parking garage behind Justin Hall that would add 600 parking spaces at a cost of $20 million.

A $3.5 million plan to reconstruct the east parking lot of Bill Snyder Family Stadium was also noted in the study. The lot would be used as parking for those who commute to campus, which would allow for other lots previously used by off-campus students to be occupied by on-campus residents.

The study noted that this would have to be coordinated around athletic events occurring at the stadium, and a transit route would be necessary for those who are going from the east lot to the main campus. There are an additional 4,400 spaces combined on the east and west sides of the stadium, according to the study.

“Right now, there is enough parking so the people can find a place to park, but with all of the construction going on and with the lots that have been taken, it may not be as convenient and where they want it right now,” Abbott said.

Aaron Finster, 2015 K-State alum, said he purchased a parking permit each year during his four years at K-State. Even though he owned a parking permit, he said parking was not always easy.

“It was very hard to find spots, especially between the 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. hours,” Finster said.

Brooke Green, sophomore in open option, said she lives off campus and gets dropped off for classes.

“I believe there’s a big problem with the parking,” Green said. “The distance is way too far and there’s never any spots.”

The study suggested a transition to zoned parking, which would vary parking fees based on the proximity of the lot to the campus core. It also mentions transit grant programs and private partnerships in addition to fees as ways to fund the proposed parking improvements.

Abbott said an increase in permit costs is possible.

“Lots of schools have a transportation fee, just like you pay for the recreation center,” Abbott said. “But we’re really just getting started and that’s part of the process that we need to go through to find out what the university is going to do.”

The study’s recommendations will go toward addressing campus growth and the specific construction projects that are either underway or being planned.

Abbott said students can have their voices heard about parking and transportation at K-State by participating and submitting comments and recommendations on Parking Services’ website.