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Public Safety Looks to Update Parking Signs Amid Frustration

Dallas Steffen | Guest Writer | 12-6-2011

Students like Matt Buresh, a junior majoring in computer science, believe the campus does not have enough parking space.

“I don’t think we have enough lots.” said Buresh.

Last year, he was a Linden Hall resident which he described as difficult.

“I had trouble finding a spot and mainly just left my car in the Linden lot all year.”

Some students have received parking tickets for parking in a newly marked “no parking” zone in Linden hall, removing three additional spaces.

Casey McCarthy, the director of BSU public safety, explained the zone was recently marked to assist “snow removal and for ability for maintenance to do their job to keep students safe by removing snow.”

He said he also plans to indicate the parking regulation in the Birch Hall lot where motorcycle parking is located.

“The southeast corner where the retaining wall meets is a motorcycle parking pad,” said McCarthy, “but that is where snow is pushed as well.”

His intent for the zones will be “to put up what calendar parking does. Right now, the sign just says no parking between the signs.”

McCarthy said he would “love to keep those spots open year round, but maintenance can’t get equipment through there.”

While he said he can understand the frustration and confusion over the loss of three parking spots in the Linden parking lot, he said the signs “clearly identify it to be a no parking zone.”

While McCarthy showed interest in how many parking violations were caused by this change and which are the most common for BSU overall to inform drivers better, he said, “Public safety does not have the money for the software of those kinds of resources.”

According to BSU’s Department of Public Safety web page, anyone can file an appeal to any ticket they receive from public safety. There are some rules, however, that public safety requires to be followed in order to qualify for a hearing.

“If an individual feels he or she has received a citation in error,” said McCarthy, “the person must first pay the outstanding fine up front within ten days, fill out the appeal form, and it is addressed by the parking advisory board.”

The parking advisory board, which is comprised of representatives for the campus, holds a meeting every two weeks and during the meeting, goes through its agenda and listens to appeals.

McCarthy said that while public safety likes to follow the policy, “I don’t think in my stay here the parking board has denied hearing an appeal after the ten days have passed.”

While the BSU public safety web page does not state if someone who appeals a ticket can attend the parking advisory board meeting, McCarthy said it is open to hearing the students.

“I just want to have notice if the person wants to attend and present in case the board does not hold their meeting that week or ends early,” he said.

Some students would like the parking lot for Diamond Point Park to be available for students. The City of Bemidji, however, does not allow students to use it as a lot.

“The lot is there for park visitors. Let’s say if students were allowed to park at Diamond Point. There’s not going to be a park. It’s going to be jammed full of student parking,” McCarthy said.

According to McCarthy, the campus parking policy does not guarantee a parking spot for student unless a student purchases a limited reserve spot.

“That lot is not oversold, so you are guaranteed a spot dead center of campus,” he said.  “Center of campus is priority parking.”

To “avoid” not finding a parking spot, McCarthy suggests to “make some accommodations. Maybe it’s a good idea to come in an hour early to find a spot. Parking is tight, but it’s better than some universities which have students shuttle from two miles away.”

According to McCarthy, the permit to park in the American Indian Resource Center lot is oversold by ten percent while the Bangsberg and Oak lots “almost always have availability.”

“Some students, staff, and faculty refuse to buy a permit,” said McCarthy. “They park on a city boarding street. They might have to walk five or six blocks, but is there a parking problem on this campus?”

Michaela Willer, a junior majoring in business administration, believes there is and will not buy a permit for her car.

“It’s too expensive to park in Bangsberg lot,” said Willer.  “I live five miles away from BSU and have to find a spot three to five blocks away unless I leave at 8 in the morning for class.”

Willer, like some students, would like parking space to increase.

“Maybe a ramp could be built to allow more parking,” said Willer. “But I don’t think there’s a way they can do that.”

“It is not cheap to maintain, repair, or create these lots,” said McCarthy.  “It’s extremely expensive.”

He believes the problem students have is mainly over convenience. Most people, according to McCarthy, like to park “right next to where they are going.”

Creating New Parking Lot Could Cause Financial, Green Space Conflict

McCarthy also believes increasing parking space will cause conflict.

“Do we want to make a parking lot where the green space is? I think you would have battles on both sides there,” he said. “There are questions that would need to be answered in order to make a new lot. Who is going to pay for this lot? Would permit fees triple? Where is it going to be?”

According to McCarthy, public safety has been behind in their permit price for years.

In the 1996 school year, the general permit cost 75 dollars,” said McCarthy. “Fifteen years later, we are only up to $100.”

McCarthy has mixed feelings about the current permit costs, saying, “In a sense, it is good for the user, but on the back side of that, it is difficult to maintain and build a new lot. It is extremely expensive.”

Despite the lack of funds, McCarthy said a new lot is “in the university master plan. There’s a note for different proposals for a new parking lot.”

Public Safety Hires Consultant for Bangsberg Lot

A new lot, according to McCarthy, is not the highest priority for BSU at the moment.

“Bangsberg lot is going to require an overhaul soon,” warned McCarthy.  “There’s literally areas that are showing now because of sinkholes. It needs to be done, but it’s too expensive. We can’t afford it. Based on our fees and money brought in by parking citations, my budget doesn’t allow it to be renovated.”

Despite the lack of funds, public safety hired a consultant over the summer to determine when the lot would be remodeled.

“I am hoping the lot will be fixed within the next five years to be realistic,” said McCarthy.  “Finances are going to drive it.”

The marked spaces in the Linden parking lot that will be changed to calendar parking. Photo by Dallas Steffen.