Construction of new facility raises concerns about parking

A large section of the Royce Brown parking lot will be closed due to construction of the JD and Mary West Science Laboratory. Photo by Kira Roberts.

By Kendra Nixon, Content editor

The groundbreaking ceremony for the JD and Mary West Science Laboratory will be at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 1.

According to the university website, over 3,000  graduates of the university’s science programs have gone on to be teachers, medical doctors, dentists, researchers, nurses and professors.

While the new facility will benefit the science program, the construction is a major undertaking that will significantly affect the campus as a whole.

Construction will begin in April and will last approximately 14 months. The University plans for the building to be completed by July 1, 2014 and be open for the fall semester of 2014. The new building will be connected by a hallway from the current science building.

The building will expand south into the Royce Brown parking lot. This will cause a majority of the parking lot to be closed off for a greater part of the construction, and half of it to be closed permanently.

With the combination of undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and visitors, parking seems to be tight. With the closing of one of the biggest parking lots, parking has been a concern for some students, especially commuters.

One commuter, Dathan Kennemer, expressed his concern about parking in the future.

“I feel as if the parking situation is a little crowded,” Kennemer said. “And the only ‘overflow’ parking lot is by Sawyer [Center], which is clearly not close to any of the classroom buildings. There is another overflow parking lot by Chapman, but it is always filled, especially in the afternoon due to parents picking up their kids from Bethany [Elementary and Middle School].

However, facility directors have not turned a blind eye to the situation.

Ron Lester, Director of Facilities Management, and Scott Strawn, VP for Financial Affairs, have met with several campus stakeholders to discuss the challenges of parking among other things.

“We do not have any new solutions as far as new parking available, but we are making some operational changes to take advantage of all the parking we do have and are trying to align expectations to what will be happening,” Lester said.

Lester asked for cooperation of all faculty, staff and on-campus resident students to avoid parking in the remainder of the Royce Brown lot for the duration of construction to allow commuters, professional and graduate evening classes first chance at the Royce Brown parking. He is encouraging more parking along 39th Expressway as well.

Another commuter, Rachel Atnip, did not mind the previous parking situation, but feels differently with the reduction in parking.

“Now about them taking out a large majority of Royce Brown for construction is absolutely crazy. It’s the main parking lot that every student hopes to park in because it’s right in the middle of everything,” Atnip said. “And for a student living off campus, we are less likely to get a spot closer to the main campus area which means leaving my house even earlier to walk across campus even further.”

Kennemer agrees with Antip with the poor location of the new science building.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous. The new science building is great for attendance purposes and what not,” Kennemer said. “But you’re going to cause major problems trying to make people park by Sawyer for class at Herrick or the fine arts building. Why take away the most convenient parking lot?”

With student’s concerns in mind, SNU still believes there are more pros than cons to the new building.

“The fact is, with the exception of major events happening at the same time as classes, we have plenty of parking on campus,” Lester said. “Its just that we may have to walk a little further than we like.”

The new facility will “house teaching and research labs,  classrooms and support space,” according to SNU’s website.