Pros and cons of a student parking garage on campus

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Parking for students at Shepherd University has been an issue among the student body, and the idea of a parking garage has been proposed to solve this, but do we really need one?

It is true that there are a limited number of parking spaces on the east side of campus where the majority of the academic buildings are located. Students even park along the main street of Shepherdstown so they can be close to their classes at the cost of feeding the parking meters all day.

A parking garage would give more students a place to park closer to their classes without having to pay a meter, but where would the parking garage actually be built? The Dean of Arts and Sciences at Shepherd, Dow Benedict, said there were three locations that have been proposed. The first would be where Sara Cree Hall is right now. The building would be torn down to make room for it, but Benedict says this would be hard because of the small lot.

Another proposed space would be the parking lot behind Thatcher Hall. There is enough space to build a parking garage there but it would take away parking for the students who live in Shaw and Thatcher.

The last option would be a tricky one. Benedict said that with the large cost that would come with building the parking garage, Shepherd and Shepherdstown should combine their resources to build a parking garage that could be used by both the university and the town. Benedict proposed that it could go where A lot is now across from White Hall. It is close to all the academic buildings and to the town, so everyone could use it.

However, there is one big problem that must be solved before the parking garage could be built: the cost. In a memo from President Shipley on Aug. 26, 2013, she said it would cost about $12 million for 400 spots.

This would add to the 2,175 spaces that Shepherd already has. It would take some of the pressure away from the over-crowded parking in A and F lots. If students started using a parking garage instead of the existing parking it would make parking much easier and less stressful for anyone who is a commuter.

Because this is not an academic building that could be funded by the state, Shepherd would have to raise the money. Raising $12 million is nothing to sneeze at and would take a long time to obtain.

Why not put that kind of money into improving Shepherd’s campus to get more students to walk around instead of parking in town or on west campus. When asked about this Benedict said, “It’s not the lack of parking, it’s where the parking is or where people want to park.”

If Shepherd put more money into creating a place where students love to walk even in the coldest parts of winter, I believe the parking problem could be solved. Shepherd is an older university, and the buildings are a bit old fashioned, but if Shepherd created an inviting place for students to walk or, as Benedict puts it, providing them with “eye candy,” students would have no problem parking in the spots in H lot and walking from West campus to East campus with ease.

There is space for improvement, and maybe when the third art building is finished, there could be a place for students to hang around. Maybe put in a coffee shop and a snack bar for early morning students making their way to class. It would be the perfect stop to create an east side “student center.” But let’s not forget about the budget. This could also make some good money for Shepherd.

Benedict says that he once had a student working for him sit on the steps at the new art center and count how many students were carrying cups of coffee. Almost every student he saw was carrying coffee in their own cup or from somewhere like Sheetz or McDonald’s. This could become a potential gold mine for Shepherd and a great convenience to the students who need their coffee fix in the mornings.