Image: Jen Andrews
Growing Pains: Where will Mercer build the new parking deck?
The parking deck previously scheduled to be constructed by the Science and Engineering Building (SEB) will no longer be built due to high costs, but the deck planned for Mercer University Drive next to the new Lofts is still underway.
Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications Larry Brumley said that originally, there were plans to build both decks to combat student concerns about parking in light of campus growth.
“The construction bids on the parking deck that was slated to be built next to the science and engineering building came in twice as high as what had been projected, due in large part to significant increases in the cost of concrete,” said Brumley in an email.
The university still began work on a 320-car parking deck on Mercer University Drive across from the Drake Field House this semester.
The deck is part of the new Lofts at Mercer Landing II project, which will also add 300 additional beds when completed. Brumley said the project will be finished by the start of the fall 2019 semester.
Brumley said that this parking deck is “the only one planned for the near term,” although other locations have been considered for the future.
“As part of long-term planning, other sites around campus have been studied as potential locations for future parking decks, but no definitive plans have been made,” Brumley wrote in a second email.
Last semester, the Student Government Association Campus Safety and Improvement Committee Chair Grant Denton said that the administration planned to construct a 300-car parking deck by Orange Field.
He said that construction was to begin on Jan. 1 of this year and finish by the fall 2018 semester, but this plan was also shelved due to expenses.
Denton said that Physical Plant Director Russell Vullo told him that “the cost was high and other projects were competing for funds.”
Some students feel that the location by the Lofts does not take into consideration the issues they have had with parking as campus has grown.
“There is plenty of parking for the freshmen behind MEP, but it’s on the other side of campus from most upperclassmen dorms or classes,” said Porter Hall resident Nicole Nelson. “Adding another parking garage by the Lofts is just more parking that’s out of the way and inconvenient.”
Freshman Kayla Mamrick said that the location of this parking deck will not address student parking problems.
“I don’t understand what admin thinks they’ll gain from putting the parking deck across from the field house,” she said. “As far as I can tell, that parking lot is never full on weekdays, but the one by freshman dorms (and SEB) is always full, especially during the day.”
Mamrick said that students will drive their cars from the new Lofts to the already full parking spaces elsewhere on campus.
“There is definitely not enough parking on campus for students,” she said.
In a previous article, the Cluster found that Mercer Police issued 800 more parking decals than there are parking spaces available on campus, which is common for universities because not all students are on-campus at the same time.
Brumley said in his email that Mercer has enough parking to accommodate all students.
“While (SEB) certainly would have provided more convenient parking, the University still has ample parking on and immediately adjacent to campus to handle our current and near-term needs,” Brumley wrote in an email.