New on-campus parking lot possible for UNA on Circular Road

Cars line Circular Road next to University Apartments. Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Clinton Carter said the university is talking with city officials about closing the road and paving a new surface parking lot, adding about 400 parking spaces.

by Student Writer John Ed Dearman

Parking relief is in the works as university officials plan for the construction of a new surface parking lot on campus.

A parking lot is being built next to the Science and Technology Building, said Clinton Carter, Vice President for Business & Financial Affairs.

“We’re now in discussions with the city about closing down Circular Road, beginning at where it intersects with Lion Drive to where it intersects with Stewart Avenue,” he said.

He said the new parking lot will combine with Lot O behind Flowers Hall.

“Right now there are 155 parking spaces in Lot O,” he said. “We’re going to increase that to 565.”

The budget for this project is about $2 million, Carter said. He said the university already has about $1 million saved due to excess funds from construction of the new residence halls.

He said the university justifies the use of that money because the new residence halls took out some parking spots.

The project will likely take a full academic year to complete, he said.

Carter said the parking lot will affect some of the apartments located on Circular Road.

“The big thing is that the university apartments are going to come down,” he said. “It is going to essentially become one big teardrop shaped parking lot.”

All the bi-level, quadruplex apartments on Circular Road will be torn down to make room for the lot, Carter said in an email.

He said the new parking lot is strategically placed for ease of access to key buildings on campus.

“You’re talking about parking that is very centrally located,” he said. “The new science building is right next to it. The new nursing building will be right across from it. These people will have a clear shot to walk through campus.

“There just aren’t many easy solutions for the parking issues,” he said.

He said parking has been a problem for the past 20 years, and cost prevents the university from building a new parking deck.

“A new parking deck today runs about $17,000 per space as opposed to a ground surface parking lot, which generally runs about $1,000 per space,” he said. “For that reason, it is highly unlikely that we will build another parking deck in the near future.”

Chief of University Police Kevin Gillilan said for the time being, students should utilize off-campus parking.

“In most cases, you will spend more time riding around searching for a spot than to park at an off-campus lot and riding a shuttle bus to campus,” he said. “I would like to see students take advantage of these services since we are providing them.”

Freshman Lucas Scott said he could benefit from a new parking lot.

“I won’t have to drive all the way to the eighth floor of the parking deck just to find a space,” he said.

The lot should help eliminate some of the parking problems, Carter said.

“It won’t solve the parking problem on campus, but it will surely make a huge dent in it,” he said.

Having 400 extra spaces by Flowers gives students a good chance of finding a place to park, said freshman Demetrius Baker.

“I think 400 extra spaces will definitely help with the problem,” Baker said.

Students benefit from any extra spaces on campus, said sophomore Laiken Mann.

“I think the university should use any extra space they can find for parking.”