Student input needed in parking decisions

The University Area Project and Traffic Planning Citizen Advisory Committee held a public meeting to discuss the future of the Terrace Hall area last week. The proposal presented at that meeting calls for a “parking structure” to be built on the corner of state Route 59 and Midway Drive.

Although the words “parking garage” are never used, one can assume that “up to 700 parking spots” aren’t going to fit in a ground lot.

Nothing was finalized at the meeting, but there was a debate among the Kent residents, business owners and university members about the impact on the city. Concerns raised ranged from the aesthetics of front campus to the influx of traffic onto Route 59 to other possible parking solutions.

But this board believes that of the proposed options, installing parking where Terrace Hall currently stands makes the most sense.

Some people are concerned about the money being spent to restore front campus only to spoil its historic look with a parking lot or garage. But what about the fact that there is a real lack of convenient parking for commuters anywhere near front campus? Also, Terrace isn’t located directly next to any of those buildings. Besides, when was the last time you looked at Terrace Hall and thought, “beautiful”? The garage would hardly spoil the campus’ beauty.

Someone suggested at the meeting that the university create a park there. Kent State already has many beautiful green spaces for students to enjoy. One more, on a corner of campus that few students venture to for classes, will add little. In all likelihood, it would only aggravate commuter students as they pass it in search of parking where not enough exists.

Yet another suggestion brought up was to preserve Terrace Hall and build a parking garage in the Music and Speech parking lot. This makes less sense than building one at Terrace. In order to build a new parking garage at Music and Speech, commuters would lose all those parking spaces while it was being built. Also, the total spaces gained would be less because the university would lose all the spaces currently at Music and Speech.

The Summer Stater reports that about 50 people attended the meeting. But there was a noticeable absence of students there. This was probably due to a lack of advertising. How many students were even aware the meeting? It’s also curious that the meeting, which could have great impact on the students, was held during the summer when fewer students are around.

However, when Parking Services wants to raise parking permit prices to pay for the structure, students will be the first in line to complain, and rightfully so. They will argue that the structure won’t be completed during their tenure as students and that they shouldn’t have to pay for something they won’t get to benefit from. It’s hard to tell exactly what the benefits are without the opinions of the student body being voiced.

It isn’t fair to the students that such major changes are debated over the summer when fewer students are here to offer input. The meeting was also not well publicized. If the university and the city don’t want students to be upset when parking prices are raised or the traffic is affected, they should include them in the planning stage to begin with.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.