SGA, UH evaluate parking congestion
The Office of Parking and Transportation Services responded Wednesday to the Student Government Association’s Student Parking Act of 2007, which addressed parking shortages.
In accordance with the UH master plan, the University will build a new parking garage across from Calhoun Lofts, currently under construction in Lot 19A, which closed Sept. 15.
"Clearly we need to do more, but parking garages are expensive," David Irvin, vice president of Plant Operations, said. "Spaces for a parking garage run about $10,000 to $12,000 per space."
In addition to the new garage, Irvin said at the SGA meeting that plans to pave Lot 4A – a gravel lot at the corner of Wheeler Avenue and Calhoun Road – will contain 600 parking spaces at a cost of $1.8 to $2 million.
Irvin said the new garage is scheduled for completion by Summer 2009 and will contain 900 to 1,000 parking spaces at an estimated cost of $9 million.
Because the Calhoun Lofts significantly reduced available parking spaces, the University is considering several options to address the issue, Irvin said.
"We don’t have a lot of places where we can add surface lots, and that’s the cheapest solution," Irvin said. "With the addition of lights and surveillance cameras, surface lots cost about three to four thousand dollars per space."
Along with the garage across from Calhoun Lofts, Irvin said preliminary plans to build another garage have already begun. The garage will be located on the west side of campus. The project hinges on future plans for light rail construction near the University, he said.
Metro finalized plans in October to construct the second of two lines adjacent to the University on Scott Street and Wheeler Avenue in early 2009.
"There’s a chance that Metro may come through and take some of our property," he said
In September, the University entered an agreement with Texas Southern University to use a free satellite lot containing 232 spaces on Scott Street.
"What I like about this option is it’s free," Irvin said. "We know costs are critical for so many of our students, and though this lot won’t be the most convenient place to park, it will be a free option."
State law prohibits UH from using state revenue for parking services, he said. Irvin said the University will pursue more options for free parking in the future – possibly arranging agreements with local churches along Scott similar to the one with TSU.
SGA President David Rosen also addressed the issue of approximately 1,000 students who were not charged the entirety of their fee bills until October.
Students in the optometry, pharmacy and engineering colleges were charged bills ranging from $25 to $100 for insurance, liability and equipment fees late, Rosen said. The students were not notified of these charges until more than a month after their fee bills were due.
"This isn’t the first time this has happened to our constituents," Rosen said. "In April of 2004, students in hotel and restaurant management were under-billed a cumulative total of $272,000."
In that instance, the University waived $400 in fees for graduating students, $270 for full-time students and $150 for part-time students because the bills were charged late, Rosen said.
Rosen also said negotiations on Friday with Provost Donald Foss to reduce the late student fee charges have been unsuccessful, including requests to waive, reduce or postpone the fees until the next billing period.
SGA had more success in April 2004 when it successfully negotiated reducing student fees, The Daily Cougar reported. At that time, Edward P. Sheridan was the UH provost.
"It’s times like these that make it really difficult to believe that (UH administration) always has the needs of our constituents at the forefront of its conscience when they’re making decisions," Rosen said. "It’s our solemn duty as student representatives to stand up for the people who we represent when we believe that the bosses in the administration building are wrong."