Office Cites Maintenance and Conflicting Priorities
By Victoria Manzo
As annual parking prices continue to rise at CSI and enrollment grows, students expect fast solutions that Parking Services says it simply can’t provide.
CSI is the largest college campus in New York City, comprising 204 acres, which serves nearly 14,000 enrolled degree students. However, there are only about 3,000 officially lined parking spaces to accommodate them.
“We do [our] best to create parking where and when we can in the most effective way,” said Mary-Jeanne Hennessy, the Director of Parking and Dolphin Card Services.
Parking Services falls under the umbrella of The Auxiliary Services Corporation, Inc. (ASC), which is a self-sustaining non-profit business. Most of its funds are therefore raised in-house through decal sales and parking enforcement.
Last year, approximately 6,400 student decals were purchased. This is a fee that continues to rise annually as prices of campus maintenance also increases.
Parking accommodations are becoming more and more limited as campus population grows, leading to anger and complaints from busy students.
“Parking is a bitch!” said Talya Yelizarov, a senior at CSI. “The worst place is by 1P in the gravel. When it’s raining it’s all muddy and you have to walk through it.”
The “gravel” is an unpaved parking area ridden with potholes. With little signage, and lines covered and wiped away by pebbles and dirt, it’s often a chaotic space for students driving onto campus.
According to Parking Services, the most severe pothole repairs are done in-house by campus facilities during off hours so as not to interfere with typical campus traffic. However, because the department does not have access to hot asphalt, major repairs are contracted out when temperatures are warmer.
White parking lines cannot be repaired in the winter, according to Parking Services, so they are only reprinted in the summer.
Moreover, they are not made a priority. Safety repairs such as stop signs are prioritized. Leftover funds pay only for the most necessary lines.
“Fix the gravel area and make it like a normal parking lot,” said Yelizarov. “Fix pot holes rather than adding new bumps around the gym.”
However, according to Director Hennessy, it is “not cost effective” to have the gravel paved due to property lines, safety concerns, drainage issues, and the College’s “Master Plan.”
On April 26, 2010, after extensive surveys and studies, the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York unanimously approved a new “Master Plan.” This was the first major revision in more than 20 years.
To accommodate 18,000 students by the year of 2019, the “Master Plan” calls for an additional 477,735 gross square feet in new construction and renovation of existing facilities.
Included in the plan is a new transit center, which will provide open shelter for 60 people; the reconfiguration of entrances and campus loop roads, to ease bottlenecks and calm traffic; and marked bicycle routes.
The goal is that the gravel area, as students know it, would be completely eliminated in the wake of a reformed loop road, which would make it unnecessary for students to cross the street to get to class.
The Plan is long term and beyond the control of the ASC. It is a campus wide initiative without a timeline.
Until then, Parking Services remains on a budget that relies heavily on funds from decals and tickets to pay for maintenance.
The parking guidelines booklet also cautions that “the college, having marked approved spaces, does not mark all areas where parking is prohibited,” the literature reads, referencing gravel spots.
According to Parking Services employee, Christian Ramirez, parking enforcers are encouraged to give tickets. Though Hennessy states that there is no incentive based system for ticketers.
Ticketers work between the hours of 9 AM and 8 PM on weekdays and are not allowed to work under extreme conditions.
“[Students] need to be aware of what the policies are rather then asking friends,” said Hennessy. “They need to use common sense when parking as well; when they get out of the car and see that the next person may not be able to get in or out [don’t] leave it there anyway.”