Extra floor on garage too costly; driving alternatives being studied

Questions continue to come in regarding parking after P1 closes when construction begins on the hotel conference center complex. If you have a question about parking, send it to Inside@nau.edu.

To read a compilation of all the parking questions and answers submitted through Inside NAUclick here.
QUESTION: Why can’t they add more floors (to the conference center parking garage) to accommodate NAU staff and faculty?

ANSWER: Adding floors to the parking garage would cost NAU at least $1.6 million for each floor. The funding sources for this additional expense are not available.

Q: I believe the university should strongly encourage alternatives to driving cars to work on campus. The loss of parking spaces is a great opportunity to do this. Here are some ideas:

  • have more frequent, reliable shuttle buses on campus
  • encourage use of Flagstaff’s transit system to get to campus; the Mountain Line is very reliable. I recommend selling monthly transit passes and booklets of transit tickets at NAU Bookstore. There is a cost saving to the rider when using ticket booklets or a monthly pass.
  • encourage bicycle ridership, and will the NAU shuttle buses have bike racks?
  • encourage telecommuting wherever possible; some departments might institute telecommuting on certain days of the week; HR has a process for this.

A: NAU already does encourage alternative means of transportation. The university has a partnership with the Mountain Line that provides discounted bus tickets. In the fall, ASNAU will survey the student body to determine the interest in a nominally priced program with Mountain Line called the U-Pass for students, staff and faculty. Four additional shuttle buses will be put into service this summer. Telecommuting, however, is impractical for most NAU employees. Human Resources has a policy in place regarding telecommuting if it works for certain departments (Personnel Policy Manual, 2.08).

Q: If my taxes are going to go toward the construction of this (new conference center) parking garage, why do I have no right to park there? In particular, considering the fact that I am a NAU employee who is going to be inconvenienced by this entire process, and I’m going to be paying for the parking garage with my taxes. If I’m helping to pay for the structure, I think I should have some say in where I’m going to park.

A: Parking regulations and restrictions are commonplace at publicly funded projects on and off campus. While employees technically would be allowed to park in the conference center parking garage when space allows, a fee would apply. The university is making arrangements to accommodate employees, but it most likely will mean parking a little farther away from offices on north campus. It is hoped that the tax dollars spent on the project will be returned to the Flagstaff community through increased visitors and conference attendance.

Q: If students, faculty and staff can’t park in the new north campus parking garage, where are all the hundreds of cars that are parked every day in the north parking lot going to go?

A: The May 3 issue of Inside NAU lists the plans for accommodating north campus parking. Additionally, a list of parking questions and answers has been compiled. It can be found by clicking here.

The following is a series of questions e-mailed by a student

Q: Considering the large effects that parking and transportation have on the campus, does NAU have a Parking/Traffic Master Plan? I’m sure the general campus Master Plan addresses parking and traffic concerns, but considering the magnitude of its effects (especially in recent and coming years) wouldn’t it be valuable to have a separate formal plan?

A: The university does not have a separate parking master plan; however, the master plandiscusses parking, including the elimination of surface parking in favor of several parking garages around campus.

Q: Does the campus have a plan in place for increasing the parking permit rates in order to feasibly pay back bond debts that I’m assuming will come with the construction of new parking structures?

A: A plan to increase parking fees went into effect in August. The new parking fees were approved in 2004 but postponed by the president for one year to allow employees and students to prepare for the increase. The fee will increase another $30—to $162—in 2006, to $192 in 2007 and to $222 in 2008. The fees are used to pay for the campus parking garages, for parking upkeep and repair as well as roadwork. Additionally, some fees are used for the NAU Police Department.

Q: I see that alternate means of transportation are being encouraged. Is there a plan in place to provide some value to these options in order to gain participation?

A: The university is exploring the idea of discounted parking fees and preferred parking areas for car pools. If you have any suggestions on what the university might be able to offer, forward them to Inside@nau.edu.

Q: To what extent, if at all, is NAU working with the city shuttle system to provide all-access bus passes to students and employees? If this is being pursued, will there be a student fee in order to help fund the project? Will there be some sort of “flex car” program for those who don’t purchase a parking permit, take a shuttle to campus, but have the need to drive every so often to such things as a dentist appointment?

A: NAU is exploring a guaranteed emergency ride home for those who come to campus in a carpool or alternate means. Unfortunately, the “flex car” idea of providing cars for individual use is too expensive. In addition, the city bus system is offering discounted rates to NAU employees and students. Longer term, the university is working with the city to offer greatly discounted passes if a larger population will ride the buses. In the fall, ASNAU will survey the student body to determine interest in a joint program with Mountain Line called the U-Pass, which would allow students, staff and faculty to ride the city system. If approved, all Flagstaff students would pay an annual fee. Details of the U-Pass are still being considered.

Q: In order to reduce parking and traffic on campus, is the university looking at options such as restricting freshmen and residents who live within “walking distance” from school from registering their vehicles with parking permits?

A: NAU is not considering any plans that restrict freshmen from bringing cars to campus. Neither is the university considering barring students who live within walking distance from purchasing a parking permit.

COMMENT FROM A READER: During my attendance at NAU, residents were allowed only to park in their respective lots from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. With feet and bicycles, we more than survived. It will help clean up the Flagstaff air, resolve some parking problems and maybe even get a few students back in shape.