Parking at IUP: a perennial complaint

But parking supply outstrips enrollment growth

A Civic Project story

June 10 screenshot of the IUP College Prowler Homepage. IUP’s grade for campus parking: a C. Screenshot by Brittany L. Munson.

By The HawkEye Staff

INDIANA — Aisha Kamara, 22, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania senior psychology major, resides at Copper Beech, a sprawling, private, hillside townhouse development about three quarters of a mile west of campus. Despite her proximity to school, Kamara drives her car to class.

Her destination spells frustration, especially with the queues at the pay-by-space parking meters, she said.

“Those lines in the morning are long,” Kamara said in an April 24 interview at her home. “Because of that, I’m always late to class. I’ve even cut a few classes because I couldn’t find a spot.

Shawn H. Hanes, 23, an IUP accounting major, agreed.

“I hate the long wait in line to the machine,” said Hanes in an April 18 interview in his home on Gompers Street.  “Not only does it make you late for class, but now the machine only accepts quarters.  A month ago it took quarters, nickels and dimes.”

Kamara and Hanes face a particular set of frustrations that permit parkers avoid. Pay-by-space parking operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. If motorists can find one of the comparatively few spaces set aside for them on campus, they must feed a single meter at some distance from their cars. After the machine dispenses a “Pay-N-Display” ticket, they must return to their cars to place the ticket on the windshield.

Some student commuters are permitted to park and avoid the pay-by-space scramble. But they must prove residence beyond a prescribed remove from the campus.

Kamara and Hanes are frustrated by design. Because they live close to campus, IUP says they “are expected to walk or ride the Indiana Transit system to the university.”

If they still wish to drive to campus, the university encourages them to purchase a long-term permit to park at the Robertshaw lot, about a half mile south of Miller Stadium. Cost of the permit: $200 for an academic year.

A lower-cost alternative is public transit. Communitywide bus service is free with a flash of a student I-card. IUP charges each undergraduate an annual $18 transportation fee  for IndiGo service “in an effort to address parking issues on campus and to improve transportation systems available to students.”

Pay-by-space parkers have another incentive to use alternative modes of travel — the numbers. In fall 2008, pay-by-space parking places numbered 573, according to campus parking officials. By 2011, the figure fell — by three to 570, a fractional decline.

Meanwhile, the total number of parking spaces grew. In October 2008, spaces totaled 4,208, said campus police Lt. David R. Kressley, supervisor of the campus parking system, in a June 1 telephone interview. In fall 2011, the total increased to 4.492, an increase of 6.7 percent.

IUP enrollment also increased, but not as fast as parking supply. In fall 2008, the school enrolled 14,310. In fall 2011, IUP enrolled 15,132 — an increase of 5.7 percent.

Thus, the rate of increase in the number of parking spaces on campus outstripped    the rate of growth in IUP’s record enrollments in recent years, However, the number of pay-by-space parking spots for local commuters shrank, if slightly.

Moreover, the scramble for pay-by-space spots makes driving to campus a gamble for local commuters.  Twenty-nine percent of undergraduates — 4,367 students — live on campusThe rest of the student body — 10,765 , or 71 percent — live off campus. This is the far larger group that competes for the 570 pay-by-space parking spots — 13 percent of total parking spaces.

IUP Students vary in their opinions of campus commuting.

In late fall 2011, Mariah H. Shah, an IUP senior, created “IUP Students Against the Parking Services,” a Facebook page, after she received a parking ticket.

“I got the ticket squared away, but am still not satisfied,” Shah wrote on Nov. 15. “I feel as if most IUP employees are very rude to students to begin with.  The parking system NEEDS to be changed!”

Shah’s site showed a handful of comments in April, none since December.

“There is nowhere to park on campus,” said IUP sophomore Stephany C. Flynn, 22, on March 20 in the Oak Grove. “The lots are crowded, the spots are undersized, and everyone backs out into oncoming traffic. I’d give it a four out of 10 for all of its inconveniences.”

IUP alumni complain as well.

“Robertshaw was by far the worst when I was there,” said 2010 IUP alumnus Kelly R. Hartman, 24, in a March 18 telephone interview. “Not only is it practically in another town, but it’s a gravel pit and prone to vandalism.”

Other students express no problems with parking at IUP.

“The KCAC parking lot is pretty nice, as well as the HUB,” said Madison D. Crist, 19, an IUP nutrition major, in an interview in the Oak Grove on March 20.

Some students prefer the public-transit option — the IndiGO bus.      

“I didn’t mind riding when I was there,” said 2010 IUP theater alumnus Ryan Chamberlain, 24, in a March 27 interview on Facebook. “I loved that it was free, and you could go nearly anywhere once you learned the schedules.”

Other students limit their driving.

“I try not to drive a lot,” said Daniel P. Kushnir, 22, a sociology major, in a March 27 interview on Grant Street. “I just drive when I have to.”  

Taylor R. Billman, IUP student government president for 2012-2013: “Space for parking could improve.” Photo by Fred Speaker.

Parking persists as a perennial issue at IUP. An informal October 2008 survey of 50 students in the Oak Grove found that parking was a top concern of 96 percent of respondents.

Then as now, students said they expected Student Government Association leaders to address perceived parking problems. And SGA leaders said they would respond.

During the campaign for 2012-2013 leadership of SGA, both candidates for president echoed their predecessors and said parking was a top concern. Sophomore Taylor R. Billman and junior Stephen R.  Hyduchak,  both finance majors, advocated more investment in parking infrastructure.

“Issues with parking are an omnipresent factor for IUP students,” Billman wrote  in an April 26 email interview.“Space for parking could improve, whether this is through a parking garage or more parking lots.” But “these both take capital.”

Hyduchak, the outgoing SGA vice president, promised to make parking easier and more high-tech.

“You’ll be able to add money through your phone,” Hyduchak said. “You won’t even have to miss class or leave the library.”

Billman won the March 28-29 election by 54-46 percent. About 5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Police Lt. Kressley, the campus parking supervisor, is in a position to act on student complaints. In an April 26 interview in his University Towers office, he said he sympathized with students who struggle to find pay-by-space spots.

“Relying on pay-by-space is tough,” Kressley said.

He cited a new parking lot south of Eberly College of Business and adjacent to the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. Dubbed the Hawk’s Nest lot, it was scheduled for paving following spring 2012 commencement.

“I would turn the new lot into all pay-by-space if I could,” Kressley said.


Sidebar: Parking options

IUP students who drive to campus have alternatives to pay-by-space parking.

One option is the parking garage on Grant Street. It offers 237 spots that rent for $424 per space per year.  Permits sell quickly, and a waiting list fills vacancies.

Another option is private property owners near campus who rent spaces to meet local demand.

Landlord Mary B. Akbay leases spaces for $150 a semester.

“We only have a few extra spaces,” said Akbay in spring 2012.  “Our properties are distant from campus. But they’re currently all full.”

Property manager Darlene L. Palmer rents a few spaces to on-campus student residents and commuters for $235 a semester.

“My tenants come first,” said Palmer.  “But after that, I’ll lease them to anybody.”

 —  by Leslie Comi and Zachary Michlovitz


Sidebar: IUP parking, compared

Student commuters have an online soapbox to grade parking on campus — College Prowler. The website entered the U.S. college-search industry in 2002. Its reporting is based on student evaluations.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is among the website’s evaluated schools. And IUP parking facilities are graded and compared.

The site’s IUP campus-parking summary mentions “a few bright spots”: “Freshmen are allowed to bring cars to campus, and the most common parking fines are only $15.”

Nineteen students’ evaluations are more downbeat. Their comments range from “pretty aight” to “parking sucks.” Their grades range from A to D-minus. The site’s overall grade for IUP parking facilities was a C on June 10.

A comparison of parking grades of four other western region  Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education campuses puts IUP in the middle of the pack:

     — Clarion University of Pennsylvania: B-plus
     — Slippery Rock University: B-minus
     — California University of Pennsylvania: D-plus
     — Edinboro University: B

By Brittany L. Munson


Sidebar: Eight hours, eight tickets

Cars parked in metered pay-by-space spots for which time has expired may receive a parking ticket at IUP. And the price of the penalty has increased.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, a ticket cost $10. In 2011-2012, it rose to $15, a 50 percent hike.

But one ticket is only the beginning of the possibilities.

“The price of tickets is ridiculous,” said Aisha Kamara, 22, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania senior psychology major, in an April 24 interview.  “There was a time I got fined three times in the same day, in the same spot, because I punched in the wrong number in the machine. I feel like I should have gotten only one ticket instead of three for the same offense.”

James J. Bertuzzi, IUP parking services parking clerk, suggested that Kamara might have gotten off easy that day.

“Pay areas are enforced hourly between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” said Bertuzzi. “If you’re in a pay area and the [parking enforcement] officer went back every hour on the hour, that person can have eight tickets.”

 — by Qurana M. Moody


Sidebar: Parking spots, by the numbers

Following are fall 2008 and fall 2011 inventories of parking spaces at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, by category.

Parking Space Inventory 2008

Parking category                                                Parking spaces

V= Visitor Reserved                                            46
HC = Disabled                                                     145
C = Commuter                                                     219
F = Faculty                                                          140
S = Staff                                                              137
R = Reserved                                                       403
LT = Long Term (Robertshaw)                           854
I = Incubator                                                        0
FS = Faculty, Staff                                              475
FSC = Faculty, Staff, Commuter                        989
MC = Motorcycle                                               71
PBS = Pay By Space                                          573
L/U = Loading / Unloading                                21
FSCI = Faculty/Staff/Commuter/Incubator       135

                                               TOTAL               4,208

Parking Space Inventory 2011

Parking category                                                Parking spaces

V= Visitor Reserved                                          138
HC = Disabled                                                   152
C = Commuter                                                   216
F = Faculty                                                        197
S = Staff                                                            138
R = Reserved                                                     440
LT = Long Term Robertshaw                            854
I = Incubator                                                      0
FS = Faculty, Staff                                             487
FSC = Faculty, Staff, Commuter                       1,073
MC = Motorcycle                                              69
PBS = Pay By Space                                         570
L/U = Loading / Unloading                               23
FSCI = Faculty/Staff/Commuter/Incubator      135

                                                   TOTAL               4,492

Source: IUP Parking Services, physical counts


Sidebar: How this story was reported

Four students enrolled in the spring 2012 News Reporting classes at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s journalism department reported on campus parking, one of the top concerns of students at the school. The reporters on this story are:

     — Brittany L. Munson, a senior majoring in journalism, from Edenville, Pa.
     — Qurana M. Moody, a junior journalism major, from Philadelphia.
— Leslie Comi, a senior majoring in journalism and English, from Erie.
     — Zachary Michlovitz, a senior majoring in journalism, from Harrisburg.


Sidebar: For more info

For a map of IUP campus parking, browse to the university’s Map, Directions and Parking webpage

For a list of parking lots and designated spaces, visit the university’s Parking Lot Designations webpage. 

For more information on this story or to get involved with IUP parking issues, please contact the following sources:

David R. Kressley
Parking Services and Visitor Center
University Police Department
University Towers
850 Maple Street
Indiana, PA 15705-1047
Office: 724-357-2994, -8748

James J. Bertuzzi
Parking Services
University Police
University Towers
850 Maple Street
Indiana, PA 15705724-357-2141

IndiGO – Indiana County Transit Authority
John R. Kanyan
Executive Director
1657 Saltsburg Ave.
Indiana, Pa 15701
Phone: 1-800-442-6928 or 1-724-465-2140

IUP Student Government Association
Taylor R. Billman

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