Maintenance needed for campus parking lots

In 2009, the price of parking permits increased for the first time in 11 years.
The increase was part of a five-year plan that will end in 2013, Dan Nadler, vice president of Student Affairs said.

The plan increased parking fees from $150 for underclassmen and $50 for upperclassmen by $20 for the 2009-2010 school year with an increase of $10 for every school year thereafter.

According to Nadler, there will be no more increases in fees after the 2012-2013 school year.

The fee increase will allow for more maintenance to the lots, as the university parking currently has approximately $6.5 million in deferred maintenance.

"Increases create an option for additional parking in the future and maintenance can be completed which was deferred due to the lack of funding," said Adam Due, university police chief.
Each parking spot on campus requires more than $300 a year to maintain, which does not include the staff or enforcement. With students paying much less than that all maintenance has not been completed.

The needed maintenance is different for each campus parking lot. Some lots have drainage issues that need to be addressed, and other lots need more than the top coat that has been done over the years.

Nadler said some lots need more than a million dollars in repairs.

"A few years ago, we analyzed the 45 acres of parking lots and determined the conditions of them," said Gray Reed, director of facilities and planning management.

Reed said the parking lots were categorized from worst to best. The worst needed to be completely rebuilt. The University Court parking lot is surveyed as in the worst condition.

"Tree roots can come up through lots and blacktop can crack over a period of time," Nadler said. "You can only patch for so long, but at some point you need to put another real layer or to start over."

Other maintenance in parking lots are replacing the light bulbs in the lights or replacing the lights as needed.

Enhancements are also needed in the parking lots. Additional lighting in areas is needed as well as "Code Blue" phones in strategic areas. Security cameras are also an enhancement that is being looked into.

University police officer Ryan Risinger said there are currently 19 "Code Blue" phones around campus.

Due said students have requested cameras in the lots and the request has been considered, but there has not been a budget to allow it.

Risinger said when there is an incident in the parking lot it is reported and investigated and there is usually not closure on those cases.

"Cameras would help, but without high quality cameras, you can only see the person doing it and not their face," Risinger said.
Student input is considered when deciding where to enhance the parking lots.

Nadler and Bill Weber, vice president of business affairs, make the final decisions but almost every semester Nadler takes students on a walk of campus for their input on where there should be more lights and phones.

"We work closely with students, administration, and the city itself," Nadler said.

Desire for more parking has also been expressed. Nadler said the university looked into building a parking structure that would cost $20,000 to build. He said it became an issue of how much people were willing to pay for parking. With the building of the structure maintenance would go from around $300 a spot to around $1,200 a spot, quadrupling parking costs.

Permits for the 2010-2011 school year cost $80 for an upperclassman permit and $180 for an underclassman permit.

According to the University Parking regulations, a underclassman is a student under the age of 21 with less than 60 credit hours.

"Since people are not willing to pay so much more for parking there is no way to fund the structure because there is no appropriated money for it," Nadler said. "We would not want that money taking away from academics."

Weber said the money from parking permits stays with the parking division.

"Not one penny of appropriated money goes into parking operations," Nadler said.

The money accumulated from parking permit fees is divided into staffing and operations. Operations are the maintenance and upkeep of the parking lots on campus including painting parking lines and adding a topcoat of sealant when needed.

Fees also staff some of the university police officers and the student workers that monitor parking regulations.
"Parking is a stand along unit that is expected to be able to sustain itself," Nadler said.

Due said the budget staffs the people who write tickets and sell the permits to students.

The cost of permits on Eastern's campus is similar to other state universities. Western Illinois University and Northern Illinois University both have permit fees of about $70 a year for students who live on campus.

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale charges $52 for student parking permits. Illinois State University's parking cost students $376 a year and University of Illinois charges $480 for nine months of parking on campus.
Eastern Illinois University
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