UW-W parking changes, explained

Kimberly Wethal, Editor-in-Chief

Members of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater administration spoke at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting to address the council’s concerns about changes to the structure of parking in August 2017.

Chancellor Beverly Kopper, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Grace Crickett and Police Services Chief Matthew Kiederlen spoke on behalf of the university.

Kopper reached out to the council last Friday requesting to speak directly to council members after hearing of their concerns.

“We want to provide information and update the council, address concerns and certainly as we’re partners together, we want to make sure we’re working together on this,” Kopper said.

During the Sept. 19 Common Council meeting, council members spoke out against the university’s decision to change the parking alongside the city-owned Prince and Prairie Streets from hourly metered parking to parking permits, only sold to students and staff. During the meeting, Ald. James Allen (At-Large) called the move a form of “double taxation” and stated that in removing the parking meters, the university violated the agreement with the city that allowed them to charge for parking on city-owned streets.

Kiederlen said that pursuant to the language of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the campus, which states the university has autonomy to regulate their parking, the university was in the right when making the changes.

The MOU, which is dated to June 2012, was an agreement between the city and the university that the campus could charge for parking on Prince and Prairie streets, should they pay the city $40,000 annually.

The cost for the university was increased by an additional $5,000 last year, Crickett said.

Kiederlen read a portion of the MOU out loud to the council, stating that the university has full authority to regulate their own parking, which he said they interpret to include the parking on Prince and Prairie streets.

“The city will not be responsible for any parking enforcement for the university-leased spaces,” Kiederlen read from the MOU. “We decided that we could make these changes.”

Kiederlen also addressed concerns about the increase in parking costs, which went up $20 and $50, for north and south parking permits and for reserved permits, respectively.

The changes were made in an effort to make Parking Services more self-sustaining, Crickett said.

“Parking is an integral part of infrastructure of the university,” Crickett said. “Parking needs to be self-sustaining. Even prior to me coming here – I’ve been here two months – the campus was working on moving to a self-sustaining model so we can direct resources to student success, to student housing, to other infrastructure … it’s more complex than parking.”

It’s typical at universities for parking to be self-sustaining, she said.

Ald. Stephanie Goettl (District 5) stated her concerns about residents of the city being barred from purchasing a permit to park alongside Prince and Prairie streets, because they were not students or staff.

“I contacted Parking Services, and I was told unequivocally that… I could not park with a permit if I was not a student on those streets, and… if I was a disabled member of the public but not a student, I could not park on that street,” Goettl said.

Kiederlen offered a response, stating that the limitations were implemented as Parking Services studied what the capacity of the lots were before it was opened to the public, because in prior years, Parking Services had continued to sell permits without considering the number of people who had already purchased them.

Changes were also made to the structure of parking to address to the imbalance of spaces on the north and south sides of campus, and in preparation for March 2018, where the construction of the new residence hall would eliminate approximately 200 parking spaces off of Lot 9 near Goodhue Hall and the Kettle Moraine Bookstore.

Crickett said the university is open to a new MOU, should the city want to draft one, or stated that the city could take the full responsibility for them back, if they so desire.

An additional complaint brought to the council was the trend of people associated with the campus parking further to the east, alongside Franklin Street and in the Starin Park parking lot, which houses 30 stalls.

“Maybe it’s coincidental, but Franklin Street used to have almost no university parking on it,” Ald. Lynn Binnie (District 4) said. “Now, probably a third of that street is routinely parked on. Even more than that, the lot in Starin Park adjacent to Starin Road is filled, or very close to filled … that lot used to have virtually no parking in it. I wondering how that has suddenly occurred now.”

Pick up a copy of the October 11th edition for further coverage of the common council meeting.