Key FindingsPage address: http://www.mnsu.edu/planning/masterplan/archives/parking/section1-keyfindings.html
- Unlike many other college campuses studied by Rich and Associates, there did not seem to be the more common concern with the lack of parking on campus. Instead the major complaint at MSU seemed to be the lack of convenient parking, for although parking was available, it was likely at the southeast corner of the campus in lots 20 through 23. Lots 22a and 23 are presently unimproved gravel lots and designated as free parking.
Paramount to this issue was the insufficient supply available to service residence hall students convenient to their housing location. At present, about 300 resident students are relegated to the remote lots. Concern was voiced because of the relatively isolated location of these spaces and distance required traveling across campus. However, Rich and Associates is of the opinion that the University has made an excellent attempt to alleviate some of the negative implications by contracting with the City's Heartland Express Bus Service to provide service to and through these parking areas. Additionally, a supplemental shuttle service between the residence halls and these campus lots has been provided to provide added service after the normal bus service ends.
- A complementary issue with implications of remote parking for residence hall students is whether other parking that is convenient to the residence halls could or should be designated for residence hall parking or alternatively designated for other group's use. This focuses on the parking adjacent the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and soon-to-be completed Andreas Theatre. The parking lot directly adjacent the PAC is expected to have a total capacity of 620 stalls with some planned re-striping. Excluding some miscellaneous spaces that are either handicapped accessible or dedicated to specific departments there are expected to be 608± Green, Purple and Gold permit spaces. The seating configuration of the three venues totals 1,104 potential seats. Rich and Associates have two concerns regarding the re-allotment of purple permits to green residence hall permits in Lot 16.
- Without some agreement that at least some of the parking spaces in Lot 16 could be available for theatre use, we feel that by increasing the number of standard green permit spaces in Lot 16 (with the expectation that some of these cars would be gone when needed for performances) there is no guarantee that a sufficient number of spaces would be available for the theatre attendees. We feel that sufficient parking must be available for the theatre patron use.
- It is likely that many of the designated green permit spaces in Lot 16 would be vacant during the peak daytime hours which would appear to be a poor utilization of a relatively prime parking area. Without the possibility of allowing some other group access to these potentially vacant spaces, we believe that it would make it very difficult to justify acquiring and constructing additional parking when many of these spaces would likely be vacant during the day.
- Another issue discovered via the interviews was the lack of short-term parking because the existing on-street meters were frequently filled. Rich and Associates is suggesting that the time limits of the meters be reduced from the current 40 minute limit to perhaps 20 minutes. We feel that at 40 minutes the time limit being so close to the average class duration that it may, in-fact, encourage students to "take-a-chance" to park in these spaces in the hope of not getting an overtime citation. Such use by students further reduces the likelihood that the spaces would be available for legitimate short-term users.
- Rich and Associates evaluated the parking enforcement at MSU. Consistent, competent enforcement is, unfortunately, necessary to insure the integrity of the parking permit system on any college campus. Rich and Associates feel that the parking enforcement at MSU is done on a very competent and professional level. We feel that consistent enforcement is perceived as fairer than that which is more sporadic or incomplete. Consistent enforcement helps insure that those individuals paying a premium for parking are, in fact, getting access to that parking.
- Analysis of the current and potential revenues have determined that development of a parking structure although possible would require a significant increase in the transient (short-term) parking rates charged as well as increases in the permit rates in order to meet the debt service and operating requirements. While we do not think structured parking is an immediate need on campus, given other less expensive alternatives available, appropriate planning should be prepared with the expectation that at a future date structured parking may be the only viable solution to providing sufficient parking on the MSU campus.
- The option of purchasing adjacent properties in order to develop them as surface parking while still comparatively expensive at $5,600 to $6,500 per space, could be done for significantly less expense then developing structured parking (even a tabletop type facility) at upwards of $8,300 per space. A 400 car multi-level structure producing 300 net added car spaces could cost upwards of $10,500 per space. When the construction cost is factored against the number of net additional spaces created, (assuming the building were developed on Lot 16) the multi-level deck would cost approximately $14,300 per net additional space. A 400 car tabletop type deck providing about 200 net additional spaces would be about $16,600 per net additional space created. The $5,600 to $6,500 per space cost for the surface spaces would be the cost per net additional space and it is expected that approximately 141 new spaces could be created. There is also the fact that surface parking should be able to be done more quickly. This assumes the alternative discussed of acquiring properties adjacent Lot 16 that would also offer a viable alternative for residence hall student parking that while not necessarily directly adjacent the residence halls would be significantly closer than lots 20 through 23. This could further allow more spaces to be allocated in Lot 16 for theatre and other performance attendees.
- Rich and Associates have also reviewed the parking management model employed at Minnesota State University - Mankato. The organization plan is, in fact, quite common with the three separate entities of a the parking advisory committee to make policy and rates, the parking and traffic department to oversee enforcement and a third separate appeals board which helps oversee the other two areas. The three-group divisions serve as a viable system of checks and balances for development of an equitable and appropriate parking system.