Parking coordinating team established by URI
First meeting addresses short-term, long-term solutions to parking woes
KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 30, 2001 -- The URI Parking and Transportation Coordinating Team, organized in response to student and staff concerns about a wide range of short- and long-range parking and campus transportation issues, met for the first time last week.
The team, headed by Kathleen Mallon, URI director of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research, includes graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and staff as well as representatives of Campus Police and Security, Facilities and Operations, the Parking & Security Committee, Residential Life, Athletics, the URI Transportation Center and the Office of Disability Services.
Mallon emphasized at the meetings outset that the frustration over parking is a direct result of all of the major campus improvements under way. "We must remember that the renovation and expansion projects and the infrastructure improvements occurring all over campus are going to make URI a wonderfully improved University," Mallon said. "However, while work on these projects continues, we have to expect a certain amount of inconvenience.
"But we can minimize the negative impacts by talking in this group, and by providing a constant flow of information about what steps are being taken to solve parking problems in the short and long runs."
Among the most important developments has been the reopening of the Farm House Road lot, adjacent to the library. The lot, which returns about 30 spaces to service, is now fully striped and usable. In addition, the lot behind the Information Center remains open for faculty and staff only, and has plenty of capacity at all hours of the day. The lot is serviced by the University Shuttle.
Paul DePace, URI director of Capital Projects, said that pipe deliveries for the steam line work going on behind Roosevelt Hall have delayed the reopening of the Roosevelt lot and a temporary lot near the Multicultural Center. But DePace said yesterday those lots should be open by the end of the semestermaybe as early as Thanksgiving.
With the Roosevelt lot and the temporary lot set to be open in a few weeks, Mallon said that would return 70 spaces to service, which exceeds what was available in the previous Roosevelt and Multicultural Center lots configuration.
As those lots are returned to service, Mallon said the University should be able to add parking capacity for students. Suggestions during the meeting included converting the White Hall lot into student parking exclusively or splitting the Chafee lot into student/staff sections. This strategy was employed successfully last spring.
Student Senate President Michael Jordan asked about opening the tailgating area near the football complex as a temporary solution, but several University administrators said once the area is opened, it would be tough to close it in inclement weather, and the field turns into mud.
Mallon also said that a parking and traffic expert funded by a grant from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority would soon be working in her office to assist with the parking crunch and to work with the group on a longer range plan.
For the long term, Mallon said URIs effort to gain approval of an 800-space permanent parking lot at the tailgating area and a 200-space lot at the current site of the dairy barns is continuing. The two projects, approved by the Board of Governors for Higher Education, will cost $5.9 million. Final approval is needed from the state legislature.
Mallon said when those lots are put in service by next fall, they will help alleviate a good deal of the campus parking problem.
In addition, work continues to improve the campus shuttle service, including eventual implementation of an express run from the Keaney parking lot to the Memorial Union.
For Information: Kathleen Mallon 401-874-4461, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116