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Parking Panic?

The worst case scenario with ETSU’s new parking garage

By Mark Sarll Jr.
On April 10, 2014

In light of the parking garage's ever-expanding delays, many will feel it is a relief to see that people can now find a way to park their car without having to worry too much about burglars, snow, rain or sleet.
The comfort that we can park a $20,000 Honda Civic is there, but when you think about the traffic that may come given the larger availability and space, a debate could sprout up: Was funding the garage worth it or not?
While the garage will be largely viewed as an "external benefit," normally, such large car parks or garages are limited to shopping malls, hospitals or scientific laboratories and companies.
One has to consider several things about the garage's placement and what it may bring in the long run, in several scenarios.
FIRST SCENARIO: There is a high-stakes, highly advertised basketball game and a lot of people attend.
Piles of cars stack up on high, and the next thing you know, the university might not even make a dime if no parking fees or tickets are imposed.
Then again, if you do impose fees on customers, you may lose a fair chunk in revenue.
As well, you will also have the problem of trying to distinguish the student cars from the visitor cars.
SECOND SCENARIO: People are leaving for Spring Break or Thanksgiving and the next thing the administration knows, they might be losing money.
And when you consider adding in Subway in the future, the cost-benefit analysis will be a shaky one on that note.
THIRD SCENARIO: Lack of extensive security around the parameters.
Because much of the garage is insulated from light and not wholly outside, trying to keep an eye on people dealing drugs, getting into violent attacks or kidnapping might be a chore.
Adding in the costs of a small patrol unit might work, but that will leave some students to excuse the campus of being "big brother fascist control-freaks."
FOURTH SCENARIO: People need to find spaces fast-and-quick and ETSU has managed to detail how many spaces are available on a screen near the entrance.
However, if people just see a clutter of cars, they may also need to see which spaces exactly are available to them at the moment, as the business of searching and parking can lead to some honking to break up the traffic snafu.
Beep-beep! Out of the way, $!@#.
FIFTH SCENARIO: Getting out of the garage sounds simple, but when you consider the oncoming, hustling-bustling traffic, especially near the ETSU/Mountain States Athletics Center where there is no light signal on the intersection, there could be a bit of a problem.
However, signaling and direction of where to turn might help you take your leave.
While these are all interpretative worst-case scenarios, they are nonetheless something to consider, especially within the planning, development and financial management branches within ETSU, regional councils and contractors.
ETSU is seen by many as one of the most established schools in Northeast Tennessee and Appalachian region, but this reputation can only get you so far.
Especially if you consider that the cost of doing business could far outweigh the potential benefits.
The long-awaited car park might be seen as something of a lark or a failed goal, but the Student Government Association has proven their merits, so we'll see how things turn out.

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