Kent State moves forward with proposed parking deck

Emily Glatt

Kent State’s Facilities Master Plan is something that will reshape the look of the university forever. From a new business building to a new gateway, the changes are vast and seem to reach across every part of campus.

But there’s one part of the Master Plan that symbolizes a new change for Kent, a plan that’s been in the works for the better part of 20 years.

Parking decks.

The proposed locations of the parking decks are in three different places. They will go in the north, west and south regions of campus, with the first one in the north region by Moulton and White halls.


Kent State officials have thought about parking decks for 20 years now, said Michael Bruder, the executive director of Facilities, Planning and Operations.

A Kent Stater article published in November 2002 stated there was talk about parking decks coming to the main campus. University officials and Undergraduate Student Senate planned to devise a way to measure the student opinion about potential parking decks.

In an article published in April 2003, it talks about the proposed benefits of a parking deck, such as: cost, green space and the ability to make a parking deck out of a student vision.

A December 2003 article mentions that while discussion of a parking deck was happening, the construction would be pushed back until as late as 2006, said Randy Ristow, then-Parking Services manager.

The proposed idea is back to create a more beautiful campus and address the increase in population, Bruder said.

Less Parking

A challenges that would come with the construction is loss of the parking from surface lots, Bruder said. This would only be until the construction is done.

However, Bruder said in an email that while he does not have an exact tally, as of right now he is expecting an increase in parking after the construction of the parking decks compared to the current surface lots. 

Parking Services Manager Larry Emling said once more parking spaces are consolidated in one area, selling parking passes for them will be easier without having to estimate on how many need to be given out.

Walkable Campus

Bruder said he wants to get more students walking around campus and further away from classes. A walkable campus promotes physical wellness and encouraging students to walk between buildings instead of driving cars in short distances, Bruder said.

Smith Group JJR is the architecture and engineering company who is proposed to work with Bruder on designing the parking decks. Smith Group has experience building parking decks at other universities. 

A Greener Campus

Bruder said what the possibility to create a more beautiful campus for the students and staff is what he’s most excited for.

Once the parking decks are built, Bruder said the old surface lots can be transformed into green spaces with more trees and flowers. It would then look more like a true front campus by Rockwell and Franklin halls.

“The campus has now reached a critical point in the development of the campus to where if we want to maintain natural beauty we have and also improve it, then we really need to consolidate our parking into structures,” Bruder said. 

Not only would the parking decks create a more pedestrian friendly environment, but they would also make campus a more sustainable place, said Cat Marshall, an associate professor of architecture and the coordinator of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program.

“I would be excited for campus (to) have more vegetation and to cut down on surface lots by adding parking decks.”


Bruder said he wants to lessen where pedestrians and cars co-exist to create a safer campus. In areas with a heavy concentration of car traffic, some people choose not to walk because they do not feel safe in vehicular congestion.

Bruder and the university would also talk to the Kent State Police Department about how to make the decks safe for students.

Some ideas that are being considered are making the decks well-lit, adding security cameras and having a security guard or police officer available close by to help in case of an emergency. 

At the end of the day, safety is the top priority for students, Bruder said.


Emling said as of right now, he is unsure how much parking passes will cost, but thinks the price may increase. The current cost of a commuter parking pass is $200 for the year.

Comparatively, it is currently $120-430 for a parking deck pass at the University of Cincinnati, $410 at Ohio University and $700-$900 at Ohio State. 

The approximate cost to build the parking decks would be from $20-25 million, Bruder said.

Emily Glatt is the parking and transportation reporter. Contact her at [email protected].