New parking director calls garage opening successful

Parking is an annual struggle for students and faculty during the opening weeks of every school year. But today’s opening of the Collins Blvd. Parking Garage may help relieve parking worries for many non-resident students.

Manuel Lopez, interim director of Parking and Transportation Services, says that while many spots have been added, the department was worried about the first day of classes.

Lopez, who was named interim director on July 28, said the new facility houses 1,541 new parking spots, of which approximately 1,039 are for non-resident students.

“It’s been a lot better than we expected,” Lopez said. “There was a lot of planning and preparation for today, and there was still space available.”

Lopez will be the interim director until a permanent director is selected.

“I’ve only been here for over three weeks,” he said. “It’s still premature to begin to make changes. (Our goal will be) educating the community and getting it familiarized with the parking changes. There are a lot more options now than there were before.”

At 9:30 a.m. senior Bradley Gray had no problem finding a spot. But he has doubts about whether that will happen again.

“Once people figure out (about the garage) it will get congested,” he said.

Lopez dismisses the concern that some non-residents may not yet know about the garage.

“We have variable message signs. There are nine electronic machines directing people where to go, it’s been on the website,” Lopez said. “Maybe they don’t know about it yet, but they’ll know really soon. It’s hard to miss.”

Until then, the garage has become a parking oasis for Mandy Elmore, a post-baccalaureate student in biomedical sciences.

“I went all around the other parking lots, but as soon as I came (to the garage), I found a parking spot,” Elmore said.

Despite the benefits so far, Gray says the garage has room for improvement.

“I don’t like having only three levels,” he said. “I thought when they opened (the new garage) they would make it all non-resident. I want to know what the other two levels are for.”

The first two levels of the Collins Blvd. Garage are designated for Gold Zone staff and visitors.

But what some students may not realize, Lopez said, is that the “west and north curbs of the first floor are non-resident, in addition to floors three, four and five.”

The opening of the new garage means temporary staff lots around the SOC building will close after 9 p.m. Friday.