By Joseph Frymire
“Hey are you leaving? Can I have your spot?”
Parking spaces are scarce at Northwest Vista College; if you haven’t been asked this question yet, you probably haven’t been here very long. During the first few weeks of class you might as well resign yourself to either a long search for a spot or a very long walk to class. It gets better as the semester goes on, but one could never describe it as perfect. Luckily, the NVC staff is well aware of the problem, and is actively looking for solutions.
“The administration is well aware that there are issues with parking, and we’re looking all the time for ways to improve.” says Melissa Monroe-Young, Public Information Officer at Northwest Vista.
And it’s true, the school administration hasn’t just been sitting on their hands. Per a deal reached with Sea World, NVC students can park off-campus and catch a shuttle right back to the Cypress Campus Center. Even more on-campus lots are being constructed out past the Boardwalk portables.
“There are lots of options for students.” Monroe-Young explains, “If they take night classes, or arrive earlier, parking can be a lot less difficult.”
But with a population of roughly 15,000 students, timeliness and proper planning can only go so far. There’s only so much space to build at ground level; eventually they’re going to have to start building up.
“There are already plans in the works to build a parking garage to deal with population growth.” says Monroe-Young, “In fact, parking pass prices have already been increased to help pay for it.”
Large universities such as UTSA have implemented garages to deal with parking issues. However, there is a point of contention in regards to building one at Northwest Vista: the campus’ natural theme. Monroe-Young stated that there have been multiple talks on how to include a parking garage without impeding upon the “green” motif present throughout the school.
“I’m on the fence,” says Leah, an NVC student, “On one hand (a garage) would be nice to have, but it might look ugly against all the trees.”
Students are ambivalent toward the issue. Most were happy to hear that one would be built, but were sketchy on whether it would be naturally obtrusive. Some, however, were indifferent.
“Live Oak Hall already looks like a factory,” says Brian, another student, “Paint (the garage) purple, call it ‘artsy’ and nobody will care.”
Ultimately one garage isn’t going to solve all the parking problems either, and everyone probably knows that. The Sea World lot isn’t going away, and there could be more off-campus lots in Northwest Vista’s future. Which raises the question: is it fair to expect students to pay the same amount for off-campus parking as they would for an on-campus spot?
“I don’t think it’s really an issue, since the current system is all we have right now.” says Monroe-Young.
It’s first come, first served parking at NVC, for students and faculty alike. That’s the way its always been, and it looks to stay that way in the near future. Most students are happy with the flat rate, and parking equality. Only a few are interested in a tiered system, and those who are only want it so they can pay more for preferential parking.
“If I could get a spot right up front, sure.” says Michelle, another student, “Otherwise I don’t care that much.”
And right now, what’s there to care about? The spring semester has reached its midpoint, and parking isn’t that hard to find. During the summer semesters, the Northwest Vista lots will look practically barren. But when the fall semester rolls around again, and there’s a brand new batch of students freshly graduated from high school, the old grumblings will begin anew.
The parking problem is always going to be there, but at least we’ve got a few ideas on how to make it better.
Joseph Frymire is a Northwest Vista College student.