Parking Services Degraded for Medical Towers Residents

By By April Heiselt

By April Heiselt

The students living in the Medical Towers and Townhouses have had to face their fair share of parking problems.

For example, parking was drastically changed due to the construction of the Shoreline Ridge apartments, the Heritage Center and the new residence halls.

The lots that were once operated by the University Student Apartments are now operated by parking services. This change of ownership also changed the fees that residents have to pay in order to park near their homes.

In the past, residents were not required to purchase a parking pass. But after parking services took over the lots in Fall Semester of 2000, residents were required to pay $60 for E passes, allowing them to park in the zone near their home.

“We don’t have a choice as to where to park,” said Janie Ward, a Medical Towers resident. “This is where our home is, and we have to park here. What are we supposed to do?”

Residents are also concerned about the fact that University Village residents only pay $1 to park.

“I don’t know why they are being charged more than we are,” said Tamara Powell, a University Village resident.

“I don’t know enough about it, but it seems that parking is always an issue, especially on campus. If the residents know about the fees before they sign their contracts, then maybe it shouldn’t be an issue. If it is something that they didn’t know about when they signed on, then that is something different,” she continued.

Alma Allred, director of parking services, explained the incongruence, saying, “USA (University Student Apartments) used to own the lots. They plowed them and took care of them. Now parking services has to clean, patch, plow and repave the lots.”

He went on to explain that since the entire campus pays for parking under the existing system, residents must pay for this lot too.

Yet residents complain that simply having the pass doesn’t mean there will be a place to park.

The Medical Towers and Townhouses are located on the top of South Medical Drive, just past the Rocky Mountain Occupational Health building. Their location places them near the Medical Library, the College of Nursing Building and both Primary Children’s and University Hospitals.

The reason these residences are in such close proximity to the facilities are so when medical students have to go to work in the wee hours of the morning or in the dead of night, they won’t have very far to go.

According to Allred, only hospital employees who also live in the Medical Towers and Townhouses are allowed to park in the designated zones. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

But residents aren’t the only ones who cannot find a parking space. When guests come to visit, there is nowhere for them to park either. For many people living in apartments, a guest can park in the stalls around the area. In this case, there is only metered parking.

“It bothers me that my guests don’t have a place to park,” said Monique Archbold, a Medical Townhouse resident. “I can’t have drop-in, unannounced visitors because they need a parking pass. I have had guests whose cars have been ticketed in the time they got the pass from me and got back to their cars. I have to have my guests come with meter money so they can come to my house.”

Now that the Olympics are coming, residents of the Medical Towers and Townhouses will face more challenges. According to the Winter 2002 Health Sciences Transportation Guide, both the Towers and Townhouses will be part of Zone 1B, which is a pedestrian and vehicle restricted area.

During the Olympics, residents will be required to have placards placed in their cars verifying that they live in the Medical Towers and Townhouses.

In addition, they will have to pass through both a vehicle checkpoint and a security checkpoint where their vehicles will receive a “boot and bonnet” search for approximately 20 seconds.

As for parking during the Games, residents will still have to use their University of Utah passes as well as their clearances for the vehicle checkpoints. No one knows for sure what effect this will have on parking. Despite the uncertainty, residents don’t seem worried.

“I don’t think any more parking will be taken because of the Olympics,” Archbold said. “Due to all of the security we will have, I don’t think people will want to park up here.”