UNC Asheville Forgoes Use of South Campus for Parking This Fall;
Temporary Campus Lots and Former Elementary School Site to
Provide Extra Space
UNC Asheville Chancellor Jim Mullen on May 26 approved a plan whereby the University will not use 2.5 acres of its 46-acre South Campus for parking this coming fall. Instead, the University will create temporary lots on campus and develop a parking area on University-owed property located on Nantahala Street. The Nantahala property, just off Vivian Avenue and close to campus, is the site of a former elementary school. The school has been unused for several years and offers the advantage of an existing parking lot and former playground that can accommodate 80-100 parking spaces when redesigned.
Nantahala Street residents should be minimally impacted. "We will utilize this former elementary school site in a manner that assures the safety of our students, does not adversely affect the streetscape, and recognizes the needs of the neighbors, their children and their pets," Chancellor Mullen said. "We will work with the City of Asheville to monitor traffic conditions in the neighborhood."
To make a safe and convenient parking area, the University will fence, gate and provide lighting for the Nantahala Street lot, and build a lighted walkway to campus, according to Stephen Baxley, UNC Asheville Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus Operations. The parking area will have an emergency callbox and UNC Asheville's Public Safety officers will increase patrolling in the area. Students who use this parking area and return to campus late at night will be permitted to park on the main campus and move their cars prior to 8 a.m. classes the next day.
The University is working with an engineering firm on the design. The project will be funded through current campus parking fees; the project cost is currently being determined. Work on the site is expected to begin in two to four weeks and will be completed by mid-August, Baxley said.
On the central campus, UNC Asheville will temporarily convert the use of three open areas to create 100 parking spaces. Additionally, the loss of 145 parking spaces will be postponed by delaying construction of a new science building until after May 2005 Commencement. The University will work with architects and contractors to assure that the building opens on schedule. Offices of Admissions and Student Life will develop a plan to limit on-campus freshman parking.
The decisions on the 2004-05 parking plan followed a thorough analysis of permanent and temporary options begun several months ago, said Chancellor Mullen.
The University is facing a growing demand for parking. UNC Asheville's freshman class is expected to exceed well over 700 students, the largest in the University's history. Total enrollment is expected to be a record-breaking 3,400 students. Additionally, University cultural, academic and athletic events draw 58,000 people to campus each year. The North Carolina Center for Creative Retirements brings another 1,600 participants to campus. Western Carolina University programs and the Asheville Graduate Center add another 600 vehicles to the parking load. "While everyone isn't trying to park at the same time, the current 2,128 parking spaces for students, faculty, staff, and visitors are clearly not enough," said Baxley. "A solution is needed before August 14, when students arrive on campus for fall semester. Meanwhile, we will develop our long-range parking plan."
The University will continue to pursue its land-management efforts in several areas.
UNC Asheville will develop a long-term, land-management plan for the approximately 100 acres of University property contiguous to the central campus. This property includes the South Campus. UNC Asheville administration, faculty, staff and students will be involved in this process, aided by the University's master planners. Public comment will also be part of this effort.
During the 2004-05 academic year, UNC Asheville will develop a long-range plan to manage
traffic and parking challenges. The University has completed a traffic and parking study, is engaged in a
campus master planning process, and will shortly add a transportation planner to its staff. The planning process
will include campus discussion involving faculty, staff and students.
The University will also review the management of its 46-acre South Campus, bordered by W.T. Weaver Boulevard and Broadway. The South Campus will remain available for community enjoyment. The University will enforce policies regarding camping, fires, alcohol, firearms, and clearing or planting of vegetation. The University will identify property boundaries with signage. Those wishing to use the South Campus for group events will need to request use, as they would for any other campus location.
The University will continue to work with the Asheville Transit System, and build on the success of the Bulldog Express bus service, now in its fifth year. This University-subsidized service provides students with weekend transportation from campus to businesses along Merrimon Avenue, the Asheville Mall, and to locations throughout downtown. In addition, the city currently provides limited but regular bus service to campus.
- Merianne Epstein, UNCA Public Information Director, 828/251-6676