By Keith Allen and Lisa Heller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
In the week and a half since the number of visitor parking spaces in the Park Avenue Garage increased, questions have been raised about whether the change was necessary.
Dede Hawkins, a second-year art education senior, said that she came into the garage one day and discovered her usual parking pattern had been changed.
"I found a note on my car last week after the change had already started," Hawkins said. "They (Parking and Transportation) should've said something about the change in the mail or when we bought our permits."
There has been no increase in visitor parking since Oct. 12, when 189 visitor parking spaces were created in the garage, said Marlis Davis, director of UA Parking and Transportation services.
"That area isn't going to fill up with visitors overnight," Davis said.
The visitor spaces at the Park Avenue Garage were added to lighten the load on the Second Street Garage, said Davis. She said the Second Street Garage is extremely overburdened with reservations for meetings and conferences.
"We're going to see that (Park Avenue Garage) filling up with those types of uses," Davis said. "We are always open to change for the good of the university."
She said the UA Parking and Transportation Committee will be discussing this issue and reviewing the added spaces to the Park Avenue Garage. She said she has received suggestions and will discuss them with the committee.
One concern is if spaces will be available for permit holders, Davis said. As long as permit holders have space, she said, then there isn't a reason to take away the newly changed visitor parking spaces.
"If we find in an acceptable amount of time that the visitor spaces are not being used, then we can pull back," Davis said. She said that surveys of the Park Avenue Garage have shown that there were about 100 open spaces for permit holders every day during peak times since Oct. 12.
Judy Bassnet, associate dean in the College of Fine Arts, said that the college requested that a booth be put in for visitor parking four years ago, but not for an increase in the number of spaces.
"We are thrilled about the booth, but very surprised about the blocking of the ramps," Bassnet said. "We need to back up and start over."
An inner ramp used to get to the second level has been barricaded and allotted for visitor use only. Permit holders can use only one ramp now to get to the second level.
Bassnet sent a memo to Davis about the problems she has noticed at the Park Avenue Garage.
"It (the change) has forced more traffic down fewer ramps," Bassnet said. She said she also talked with the City of Tucson about the traffic problems at the Park Avenue and Speedway intersection.
Bassnet said she has heard from students who are upset about the change.
She said she hopes a meeting with students, faculty of nearby departments and the UA Parking and Transportation Services can be arranged.
"This is a typical shaft to the Art Department," said Deborah Block, art education graduate student. "For them to take away that many spaces is impacting us."
Both Hawkins and Block said that it was convenient to have a booth instead of the meters.
The reduced number of spaces has forced some drivers to park on the roof and in the sun, Bassnet said. She said she understands that those spaces are open, but that permit holders feel they pay to have the space in the shade.
Hawkins said, "I don't appreciate that I paid $250 for a permit to park in the shade and most of the time I have to park in the sun."
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