Construction drives away parking spots

Gabrielle Tropp

Several years ago parking disappeared around the quad. This year parking on High Street was removed as part of a pedestrian safety project. Fifty additional spaces were lost when the March Hall modular housing took over about half of the March Field parking lot.

As the school plans to expand, it begs the question: where is there left to park?

Parking and Transportation Coordinator Bruce Hill said that while many students see the changes as an inconvenience, the college sees the new parking situation as a way to reduce traffic on campus.

“It is a walking campus. That is the goal that [the college wants] to get to,” he said.

Aside from losing parking on High Street, the March Hall temporary housing is currently taking up parking spaces on campus. Spots on South College Drive in front the of the Simon Center are temporarily unusable because of the sidewalk and stairway constructions leading up to the building and down toward Simon Center.

Vice President of Finance Roger Demareski said the medians and parking removal on High Street were part of the college’s goal of making it safer for students to cross the street on College Hill.

Demareski said the loss of these spots were taken into the college’s initial parking study presented to the Easton Planning Commission along with the zoning proposal for the McCartney dorms.

The college received a $1.1 million grant from the state to improve pedestrian safety in three areas: High Street from McCartney to Acopian, which is where the median was added, the intersection of McCartney Street and March Street and N. 3rd Street by the Arts Campus.

Despite apparent loss of parking, Demareski said overall, the college has added spots. The college is constructing a new parking lot on Bushkill Drive that will provide an additional 302 parking spots come its completion in mid-November. A temporary lot is located next to the new Plant Operations building at 901 Bushkill Drive with 100 temporary spots.

“I was not able to put as many students on Markle Deck as I normally do because of the loss of the staff parking in [other] areas,” Hill said.

“There’s about 570 students that have been assigned parking on campus, and then another 200 off campus…on Monroe Street or somewhere private,” Hill said. He added he was unsure how these statistics compared to past years’.

Ben Paulis ’20, a band student, is concerned that the lack of parking near Williams Center for the Arts is going to hinder easy access to the center.

“My grandparents come to see my concerts. They’re old and they would normally park as close as possible, but now they have to walk a lot farther,” he said.

In regards to this issue, Hill said he feels the available parking is sufficient.

“Markle Deck was built originally to accommodate the traffic for events at Williams,” he added.

As the school continues to expand on College Hill within the next 10 years, Demareski said that the school will always have “an ample supply of parking” available for its students and faculty.

“It becomes a challenge at times, but you do what you can,” Hill said.