To the Editor:
Dr. Pattenaude, I told myself I would refrain from the parking issue this year, as there is really nothing left to say, but today prompted this note. Arriving at the Portland campus this morning (Friday, Sept. 28) for a 10 a.m. class, all the lots were full. Yes, I know parking is tough and 10 a.m. is the worst time to be trying to find a spot, although Fridays have historically been one of the better days for parking relief. Not so anymore! Today, the faculty lots, the student lots and the streets were jammed. When are we going to see the realization of a parking garage? Many spaces, as usual, in the lots were occupied with vehicles devoid of ANY USM parking decal. These are not public parking lots! If they are then we might as well scrap the decals and get up earlier than the next person to secure a spot. I parked in a “ticketable” spot just as one of the parking officers was driving by. He stopped and we chatted with civility and shared our frustration. I said, Fridays were never like this and he said he has been told there is a very high interest this year with Senior College and this has taken away some of the relief those of us with Friday classes used to enjoy. He also mentioned a psychology program and a few other things going on today that exacerbated the situation. Where is the tow truck? The Gorham campus is a nightmare as well. I know you live there and are aware of how tight parking is, but after all you have a private space. I have spoken at times with Dewey Ferguson and many of the other USM Police officers and the ball seems to fall in your court. They tell me you will not allow vehicles to be towed. Why? The Gorham campus is constantly inundated with vehicles with no decals. Parking tickets and the “boot” do not increase parking availability for those paying for the privilege to park. The public uses our lots for free. Trying to park near Bailey Hall to use the computer lab or library can be impossible when the time conflicts with a Russell play or a Corthell concert. The public takes the spaces free of charge. Forget trying to park near the Brooks Center to get into the bookstore. The residents have a lock on all the close spaces and the public fills the rest. The sports complex is another area that for some reason is immune from even ticketing! High school track meets in the field house, the almost 24-hour use of the Ice Arena, and public exhibits (boat shows, etc.) in the field house and gymnasium are only a few of the events that draw public vehicles into lots deemed usable only by properly decaled vehicles. It may be contrary to popular belief, but this University is a seven-day-a-week campus for many of us. College use for Friday classes and Weekend College seems to be underestimated. The computer labs, libraries, and gymnasiums are necessary for many students at hours compatible to their schedules, especially commuters. The University needs to be community friendly and I fully support this goal, but their use of the parking lots must be addressed. The University of Southern Maine offers a plethora of educational, athletic, and cultural opportunities that can only be envied by other institutions of higher learning. It is this attraction that behooves this University to confront the parking dilemma. I beg of you, Dr. Pattenaude, to put this issue at the forefront of this University’s planning agenda.