Parking Update from President Benson
EKU is experiencing an incredible period of growth both in enrollment and physical facilities. Just two years ago we introduced a campus revitalization plan to launch the most comprehensive campus upgrades at Eastern in more than 50 years. The Center for Student Life is the signature element of the plan, consisting of new residence halls, a dining facility, renovated student center, new recreation center, the Carloftis Gardens, a Lancaster Avenue pedestrian gateway and EKU’s first parking garage, all at the heart of the Campus Beautiful. Most of the projects are nearing completion and will be open for the start of the fall 2017 semester. Additional projects are underway and are scheduled to be complete in 2018. Part of the transformation includes a pedestrian-friendly campus that leaves central areas open to foot traffic, routing vehicles to the perimeter of campus.
These improvements enhance the natural beauty of our campus and bolster safety for our students, faculty and staff. It also requires an adjustment to our driving and parking patterns. As we grow here at EKU, we know this has presented parking challenges, and I have heard your concerns. Parking concerns on a college campus are certainly not unique to EKU, but the extent of our campus improvements coupled with EKU’s record enrollment growth does present distinctive opportunities to better manage parking resources. I would like to provide a few updates on the strategic development of the 2017-18 parking plan for our University.
- With the opening of EKU’s first parking garage and the restoration of several lots offline during construction, there will be a net gain of campus parking spaces for 2017-18. We are also currently assessing possible lot additions along Summit Street. The exact number of new spaces and designated zones are still being determined, and there will be some new areas going offline due to the next phase of construction projects, but we are pleased to offer more parking options for the next academic year.
- EKU Parking and Transportation Services will begin the transition to become an auxiliary service during the 2017-18 year. This means general University funds will not be used to fund the department and can be reallocated to other academic or student service needs. As an auxiliary unit the department will be able to self-fund needed parking lot maintenance, construction of new parking lots and the operation of the new parking garage. The transition plan is currently being developed, and we will communicate any changes to parking services as soon as those details are finalized. While we anticipate some adjustments to permit fees, we will work to limit the impact to our students, faculty and staff.
- An ad hoc parking advisory group has been formed, led jointly by Lora Snider, Executive Director of University Business Services, and Robert Mullaney, Assistant Professor, Occupational Science & Therapy/co-chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee. This group held its first meeting last week to offer feedback on parking zone plans, permit pricing structure and the transition of the parking department to an auxiliary service.
- The University and our Big E Transit partners at Kentucky River Foothills have purchased and are currently testing a mobile transportation app that will offer bus passengers real-time tracking of bus routes and schedules. This technology will be introduced for use this fall and will greatly assist in planning for arrivals and departures of Big E Transit buses serving EKU with routes both on and off campus. You will find current schedules at http://parking.eku.edu/parking-transit.
- Finally, to assist in these plans, all registered EKU parking permit holders are encouraged to participate in a campus parking and transportation survey. Please respond when you see the survey this week in your campus email or through EKU Direct. This is an important tool to assess parking patterns, preferences and challenges. You are invited to share your feedback through the survey, and we value your opinions.
It will take collaboration across campus departments to develop a comprehensive campus parking plan to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff and visitors. Just as the face of our campus is changing, we will also need to shift our campus culture to a proactive approach to parking. All of us should identify parking options in advance, and allow sufficient time to and from designated lots. Please keep that in mind as you are planning your schedule for the next semester. We will continue to provide updates on EKU parking and transportation services as the plans are completed to help you stay informed.