Sustainability enters parking debate

Jed Dean | Lariat Photo Editor The university will consider removing some student parking around Moody Memorial Library to make Baylor a more residential campus, one of the Baylor 2012 goals.

As more spots may vanish, students perplexed

By Leigh Ann Henry

A response to a survey on Baylor’s sustainability efforts has sparked debate on the hot-topic issue on campus: parking.

Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator at Baylor, filled out the Sierra Club Survey [PDF] in March 2010, a national survey designed to measure the sustainability of colleges around the country.

One question on the survey asked what the school has done to promote bicycling as a transportation method.

Getterman’s response in the survey states that Baylor has more than 100 bike racks on campus and that plans are under way to create a bike program.

Additionally, Getterman wrote, “Baylor sustainability continually promotes the positive effects of riding a bicycle to class, rather than drive. We’ve also cut the number of parking spots on the interior of campus in order to encourage other methods of transportation.”

Wichita Falls junior Daniel Cervera, a junior senator of student government, disagreed with the idea of removing student parking spots for sustainability.

“On the one hand you’ve got people doing all that they can to assure the student body that they’re working to resolve the parking issue, to relieve the stress,” Cervera said. “On the other hand you’ve got another administrator saying they’ve cut parking for the primary purpose of going green.”

Cervera is in the process of drafting a bill opposing “green” reasons for decreased parking, which he hopes to have finished in the next two weeks.

Cervera has collected about 120 signatures for his petition since last week, mostly at the Bill Daniel Student Center.

Cervera said although he chooses to ride his bike to campus, he still does not believe Baylor should force students’ hands by eliminating parking.

“The benefits of cutting parking interior does benefit us and does benefit our mission, so we’re going to talk about it,” Getterman said. “It’d be ignorant of us not to, but that is not the reason parking spots are being cut.”

Cevera said he intends to meet with Getterman during the drafting of his bill, but at this point has not.

Getterman said parking is not being cut solely for the purpose of going green and said he looks forward to meeting with Cervera in the coming weeks.

“I think he’s taken this out of context; if I had that power that’d be great,” Getterman said.

“We’d have a lot more green stuff on campus, but I don’t have the power to be able to say, ‘We’re cutting parking due to sustainability.’”

Matt Penney, director of parking and transportation services, said the reason behind cutting interior-campus parking spaces is in support of the Baylor 2012 vision, the master plan for the future of campus.

“One of the imperatives directly says to make Baylor University a residential campus,” Penney said. “It is specific enough to say to move parking to the exterior of campus.”

Penney said more than 6,000 student parking spaces have been sold while Baylor has more than 9,000 spaces available to students. The majority of unutilized parking is the Ferrell Center lot and the East Campus Parking Facility.

Penney said plans for next year are to sell specialized parking passes for each of these areas at a reduced price.

This year parking passes sold for $225, but Ferrell Center parking passes will cost $95 and the East Campus Parking Facility passes will cost $150.

Additional motivation to utilize these areas is an updated shuttle route.

“To make it work there has to be a good bus route. I mean, it has to be convenient. It can’t be a pain because if it’s a pain to park and to ride the bus, then why ride the bus?” Penney said.

This new route will include the area where Third Street passes in front of Moody Memorial Library and create a more centralized dropoff for students using the library or the McLane Student Life Center.

A shuttle route running on that street creates unsafe conditions for parking, so the parking spaces bordering only that side of the library may be removed.

“While green is a consideration, it is not the driving force,” Penney said. “There’s a master plan in place to make Baylor a residential campus.”