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Collins lot to close until fall

Nov. 14, 2006

Staff writer

When students return from Thanksgiving break, it might be wise to ditch the car and bring a bike because parking across from Collins Residence Hall and the Stacy Riddle Forum will be out of commission until August.

During the break, Baylor will begin construction of a 784-car parking garage across from Collins between Eighth and Ninth streets. The garage will replace the 513 spots already in place and should be completed by August.

"Some people may ask why now instead after the end of the semester," said Frank Shushok, dean for student learning and engagement. "And the answer to that question is we could not finish the parking garage by August if we wait any longer."

Construction crews will begin fencing off the area for construction Nov. 22. If any cars remain, they will be towed.

To alert students of the impending construction and the threat to cars in the area, parking services department is posting fliers in buildings across campus, as well as on cars, saying that all vehicles must be removed before the Nov. 22 deadline.

"They are kind of a friendly reminder so people don't come back in a panic after Thanksgiving and say where is my car and why didn't anybody tell me," said Shelley Deats, manager of parking services.

While the new garage will result in a net gain of 271 spots , students will be left high-and-dry with the absence of 513 parking spots, but Deats said students were notified before the semester even began.

"Pretty much every decal that we sold came with a spiel about know what to expect come fall," Deats said.

Collins residents now have found themselves in the same boat as students who live in Kokernot Residence Hall who were left with little or no parking due to construction of Brooks College.

But Kokernot residents haven't gone completely empty handed for their trouble, and neither will Collins residents.

Residents of Kokernot received a $50 rebate in Bearbucks from President John Lilley and the executive council for their patience, Shushok said.

"The Collins residents will receive a letter from President Lilley and the executive council again thanking them for their patience with some kind of token of our appreciation," Shushok said.

But students are coming to terms with the construction and an added incentive doesn't hurt.

"I know it's going to be hectic because there are going to be no parking spots," Sugarland freshman Lindsey Blanchett said. "If they have to do it, they have to do it."

Even though the administration is doing what they can to alleviate the pain, parking spots will remain few and far between.

"It's going to impact not just me but the whole Collins community," Houston freshman Danielle Partee said. "Parking is going to be cut in half."

In response to the shortage of spots near Collins, parking services looked into alternative parking garages.

Periodically, public service officers, along with parking services, survey the garages on campus, counting how many spots are available during peak hours, Deats said.

"A major relief valve for us up to this point has been the East campus parking garage," Deats said. "On an average, there has never been a time when there has not been 700 plus parking spaces available during the day."

"Now granted, a lot of people don't take that into consideration because it's on the exterior of campus," she said.

Thus, the Blue Night Route was born for the Baylor University Shuttle.

The Blue Day Route runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where that route ends, the Blue Night Route begins, running from 5:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week.

"As long as (shuttle drivers) can make a safe spot anywhere on Eighth Street, all the girls have to do is hail the bus driver and they'll stop if they can," Deats said.

Despite inconveniences, students and faculty agree the garage is worth the process.

"We know the challenges will be there, but I think spaces are available," Deats said. "It will just be a matter of being able to get to the shuttles to ride those on time - planning ahead, both for faculty, staff and students."