Influx of information, low attendance at parking open house

By Anna Toth

 

Two open houses were hosted on Thursday, Oct. 12, to explain and get feedback on the Parking Strategic Partnership Program, a proposed plan to lease and give responsibility of Cleveland State’s parking garages to a private, third-party parking operator.

The Commuter Corner Open House was at 11 a.m. in Student Center 350. The area has served as a lounge and study area for commuter students for years, as well as a storage and work area for student organizations on campus.

Three students showed up to open house at 11 a.m., lead by Ben Rodgers from the Of ce of Performance Management and Clare Rahm from the of ce of Campus Services.

The Commuter Corner Open House, while attended by few, provided much insight to a project that had previously been in the dark. The idea for the Parking Strategic Partnership Program has been under development for 18 months by Rogers and the Of ce of Performance Management, and there are more steps before it becomes a done deal.

Rogers explained that there were a few things that inspired them to investigate a potential private-public parking partnership.

The Path to 2020 Initiative was an in-house, campus and community wide assessment of the school to see what could be improved upon and identify opportunities that could be taken advantage of. Parking was one of those things.

This partnership idea is also a response to ndings by the State of Ohio’s Higher Education Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency report. The report recommended that Cleveland State look at selling, leasing or repurposing non-core university assets.

“Parking service is a non-core function for the university. You do not come to the university to park,” Rogers said.

Should this partnership go through as expected, it would lease out the parking garages at Cleveland State to a third- party parking operator for the next 50 years. This operator would be in charge of the upkeep, infrastructure and running of the parking services at Cleveland State.

There are several different pros and cons to this that Rogers outlined in the open house on Thursday.

A major pro for the university is that it shifts responsibility and liability away from the university – meaning that accidents or injuries that happen within the garages wouldn’t be the university’s fault. The university will also no longer be responsible for lack of parking spaces, negligence of upkeep or any other of the day to day parking problems.

Another major pro for the university is that for the next 50 years, they would not have to pay for the parking garage updates and repairs. This is essential to the deal because the Central Parking garage near Main Classroom is on its last ve to 10 years of life, according to University Architect Bruce Ferguson.

“Someone has to rebuild the Central Garage,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson went on to explain that Cleveland State would have to be the one to rebuild the Central Garage should the partnership not go through successfully.

While the parking permit prices will increase a certain percentage every semester with the partnership, the university is committed to raising the price of permits either way. The university would still be in charge of permit sales and pricing under the partnership. More about rate increases and prices can be found on Page 4.

The specifics of the deal are vague as of right now, but the parking operator would potentially be able to open up parking to the public for special events at Playhouse Square or other places downtown. Spaces would hypothetically be saved for students at these times as well.

“When they get down to x number of spaces left, they would stop selling,” Rogers said.

Revenue from event parking would go to the parking operator instead of the university. More information about revenue that the university gets can be found on Page 4.

As specifics of the deal are being hashed out, Rogers says that the university has ultimate control of the guidelines of the deal.

“The university is creating the document and setting the rules,” Rogers said.

That document is called Request for Proposals (RFP) and it would outline the rules of the deal. It is currently being drafted based on feedback from faculty, students and staff given in these upcoming open houses, meetings and town halls.

However, with only three students attending one of the open houses and no students attending the Residence Life Open Hall, feedback from students is looking nonexistent.

Fortunately, there is still a chance for students to participate in two open houses on Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. and 19 at 2 p.m. in Fenn Tower 303. You can also visit the website at csuohio.edu/opm/parking-partnership.

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