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Construction leads to parking issues on campus

<p>Construction on the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street has forced many faculty and staff to give up parking.</p>

Construction on the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street has forced many faculty and staff to give up parking.

With several parking lots and spaces disappearing during construction on the College Avenue campus, some professors say they are feeling the squeeze. 

Around 15 metered parking spots have been removed since the start of the projects over a year ago, said Mitch Karon, executive director of the New Brunswick Parking Authority. At the end of 2015 going into 2016, NBPA plans to replace the metered parking.

Christopher Paladino, president of the New Brunswick Development Corporation, said the metered parking spaces had to be removed for safety reasons. 

In the past few years, Rutgers has also lost Lot 8 on the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street, part of Lot 11 and smaller lots accessible from Bishop Street due to construction, said Jack Molenaar, director of the Rutgers University Department of Transportation Services.

John Belton, a professor in the Department of English, believes the parking overload has become much more intense in terms of number of parking spaces available and the number of people who need them. 

Belton works at Murray Hall on the College Avenue campus and often found himself parking in Lot 11 before all of the construction began. Now, the lack of parking spaces severely affects his commute.

“There was an important department meeting we had a few weeks ago, and in order to find parking for the meeting at 10 a.m., I had to arrive at 7:30 a.m.,” he said. “At that point, there were plenty of spaces, but they usually disappear at 8:15 a.m.”

Parking is still available on the Livingston and Busch campuses, Molenaar said, as well as some spaces on the top of the College Avenue parking deck. 

Molenaar and his team had made visual scans of the deck and has found that even during the busiest times of the week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, the top of the deck has been empty. 

“We actually sold the commuter [Zone A] permits and maxed them out at a lower number than previous years to make sure we had enough spaces for faculty and staff,” he said.

Molenaar also said some faculty had been moved to the Old Queens portion of the Easton Avenue deck. 

According to a September 2013 article in The Daily Targum, Rutgers originally planned to add a parking deck to the redevelopment project. Molenaar claimed a conceptual plan existed for a deck at the back of Lot 11 under the facilities department.

But Paladino said there would be no parking on site.

“[Only] street parking will be returned,” Paladino said.

He argued the metered parking spaces should not be returned, but that was the city’s decision.

The University and DEVCO reached a policy decision to utilize the property and create as much green space and building space as possible, Paladino said.

Paladino said the College Avenue campus should not have any parking spaces. Instead, people should walk, bike or take public transportation.

“Essentially we’re building a large park there,” he said. “There was a choice to create green space on this campus that was seriously deficient, instead of building additional parking.”

Rutgers Hillel owns Lot 11, not DEVCO, Molenaar said. They once owned a property on the corner for Bishop and George Street and were planning to build a house on that corner.

Now Rutgers is using that property as the future Honors College.

“It’s all a complicated development deal,” he said.

Belton feels that only aggravated the problem, and this year was not the best time to give up those lots.

One of the problems Belton faces as a film professor is working with a great deal of materials he needs for his classes, such as a computer and real film.

“For me, it’s an extra burden,” he said. “I can drop off the material and then go park, and then either walk or find transportation back.”

Belton is angered that Rutgers gave parking permits to construction workers for Lot 16 behind Murray Hall on the College Avenue campus. They park before 8:15 a.m. and take up the few spots faculty and staff still has, he said.

Belton has left messages and visited the parking office. He asked if they were planning to add additional parking. They said no and told him to take any complaints to their supervisor.

He feels the administration should hold some sort of mediation over possible solutions. 

“None of this has been discussed in any reasonable form,” Belton said. “If construction engineers are going to dictate what faculty and staff should be doing in terms of arranging to get to work, that seems to be a problem.”

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