With the recent closure of the Sherrill Center parking deck and the influx of students commuting to campus for the in-person fall semester, UNC Asheville students find themselves struggling to find parking on campus.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Safety Eric Boyce sent an email out to students at 1:08 p.m. on Aug. 19 announcing that both levels of the Sherrill Center parking deck will close starting on the evening of Aug. 24 and will stay closed until late October to allow for repair and maintenance work conducted by Carolina Restoration and Waterproofing and SKA Consulting Engineers.
Some may wonder why the university closed one of their parking garages while students struggle to find parking. Nonetheless, students should keep in mind that because of the Sherrill Center parking deck closure, they may face more difficulty finding parking by Karpen and Owen Hall.
Project Manager Scott Walker is in charge of coordinating the repairs on the Sherrill Center parking deck.
According to Walker, crews plan to make epoxy repairs on the deck to prevent corrosion, as well as replace steel connections in the deck with non-ferrous carbon fiber connections to ensure the deck’s longevity.
For those students who would usually park in the Sherrill Center parking deck, UNCA officials said the university has prepared parking alternatives.
An email from Boyce sent out to the campus community at 1:52 p.m. on Aug. 24 explained that students can park in any available parking spaces found in lot P11 or lot P12 located across the street from the Sherrill parking deck.
“There are 154 parking spaces available in lot P34, the newly constructed parking lot on Edgewood Drive beside Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church. Faculty, staff, non-resident students and visitors can park in the lot,” Boyce said.
Boyce’s email explained how the university recognizes this inconvenience and has provided use of the Red Route campus shuttle to pick students up from distant lots. The shuttle will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Non-residential student Brandon Buckles said he struggles to commute to campus this semester, even with the added alternative parking and shuttle services. Buckles said that for the past four years, like most students, he would arrive on campus and try to locate a parking spot close to whatever building he had class in that day.
However, this semester, Buckles said that he has not been able to find any parking close to his classes. He now has to park all the way down at the bottom of Campus Drive by Broadway Street and has to take a shuttle back up to campus. However, he said that the Red Route shuttle does not come by very often.
“One of the worst things that I find is whenever parking gets filled up, you’re left with just a few minutes because you’re trying to get to class and you’re trying to find some place to park and there’s nothing available,” said Buckles. “Then what are you left to do? Where else are you supposed to park? If you try to park in a visitor spot, or in a staff spot, or in a residential spot and they take a look at that little sticker on the back, that’s immediately a $30 fine, and if you don’t have the sticker, which by the way you have to pay for and is $200, that’s a $50 [fine].”
Fed up with the hassle of parking far from where they need to be, some students may decide to just park wherever with no care for the consequences. However, that decision could turn out to hurt more than help.
Michael Fortini, a fourth-year non-residential student, expressed his frustration with the parking system as well as the financial toll that parking on campus can put on students.
“I myself am kind of upset on how the cost of parking is unloaded on the students for what I perceive to be an absurd rate,” said Fortini. “I felt that I have not received enough justification for why I would need to pay so much for a year’s worth of parking on campus, on what that money means for the school.”
While the university has provided a few alternatives to make parking easier during the renovations on the Sherrill Center parking deck, Buckles said the parking system causes unwanted parking turmoil for students..
“The university has created a system that favors the school but does not favor the students,” said Buckles.