Plan for new track would eliminate parking spots

By Lana Groves, Asst. News Editor

Commuter services is looking for alternate parking spots to replace the 500 spaces the U expects to lose when a new track and field facility is constructed.

The track, which will give the women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country teams a place to practice and hold meets, will replace parking spots across from the Eccles Broadcast Center on Mario Capecchi Drive.

“We figured the parking lot would be temporary,” said Eric Browning, a campus planner at the U. “It was a lot cheaper than filling that area in with grass.”

The parking lot stretches from the Tanner Humanities Building up to Mario Capecchi Drive and includes about 1,000 parking spots, said Alma Allred, director of commuter services.

In time, the entire parking lot will be completely covered by softball, soccer and intramural fields, which will replace part of the U golf course. Although administrators said they will cross that bridge when they come to it, the immediate problem is the loss of 500 spots.

“There isn’t any available in Fort Douglas,” Allred said. “Right now we’re looking for areas on the golf course.”

The nine-hole course was closed in November to begin preliminary utility construction for science, technology and research complexes and other medical buildings in the next 10 years.

Allred said commuter services is looking for funding sources but has no money to construct new parking structures in the near future.

The U doesn’t have any money to construct a multi-level parking structure, which would cost about $20 million, since commuter services only receives funding from parking passes, transportation fees from tuition costs and pay parking, he said.

“If we put in a parking structure, all bets are off on parking fees8212;they would have to be increased,” Allred said. “The cost per stall is $1,500 to $2,000. In a parking structure, it’s $15,000 to $20,000.”

Despite the loss of parking spots, Browning said new intramural and soccer fields, of which the U has relatively few, are one of the best things to come out of the campus master plan, a 25-year projection of the U’s future facilities and plans.

Ron Snarr, the U’s athletic fields director, said though the soccer field is in “excellent” shape, some of the other fields are in need of work.

“The softball field used to be an old parking lot, and they never pulled the parking lot up when they built it so the field doesn’t drain,” Snarr said. “Mismanagement by whoever.”

Browning said the U has no definite time line for the seven additional soccer and intramural fields.

“There’s been a feasibility study about what it would cost to move the women’s softball field to make room for the (projected) Student Life Center, but I’m not sure when those other fields will be coming online,” Browning said.

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