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Parking improvement proposal calls for additional $150,000

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A new parking proposal was introduced at the Student Government meeting Thursday, calling for an additional $150,000 to cover improvements to campus infrastructure.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Tammy McGee began the meeting with a brief address and introduction of the members who have been working on the proposal.

She started with Jesse Cashman, assistant vice president for safety and risk management. With Cashman sat Kevin Whitlock, director of Public Safety, Jennifer Super, associate director of Public Safety, and David Schnettler, security supervisor.

Before turning the podium over to Cashman, McGee talked briefly about the Campus Area Police Services (CAPS) program, tying safety to parking on campus.

“It’s one of the first of its kind in the U.S.,” she continued. “The partnership that can happen between public institutions…can benefit our community.”

A memorandum with the St. Cloud Police Department was put in place about two years ago, she explained. The program is moving into its third year at SCSU.

Coming to the podium, Cashman explained that the CAPS program has been effective in solving violent crimes on campus quickly, since they’re able to focus solely on SCSU.

“Almost my entire career has been on college campuses,” he said, having worked as a safety director for Augsburg College and North Hennepin Community College. Safety and parking on campus needs attention, he said.

After coming to SCSU, Cashman said he began looking at the campus’ infrastructure. During the beginning stages of putting the plan together, Cashman said research was spread through campus studies and assessments that looked at the overall infrastructure of campus, along with what students’ needs were.

After going through their findings, they came up with the main idea behind the new parking proposal: “Create a strategic parking plan to reflect the comprehensive and differing needs of St. Cloud State students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus.”

The plan touches on a variety of aspects, ranging from being cost effective to energy-conscious, while staying focused on the community, Cashman explained.

Kevin Whitlock, director of public safety, came to the podium to present some of the findings from the Spring 2015 student survey.

Seventeen percent of students reported feeling unsafe in the southern part of campus, the report showed on the presentation slides above the student government body.

In contrast, fewer students reported feeling unsafe in the northern part of campus where the majority of buildings are, he explained.

The poor lighting and remote parking areas play into that, he explained.

Coming back to the podium, Cashman said that half of the parking lots on campus are 35 years old or older, while 30 percent are around 20 years old.

“We didn’t have a cost-effective plan,” Cashman said. “We are just putting Band-Aids on them.”

With a budget of about $1.3 million, funding sometimes comes up short, Cashman explained, about $10,000 short.

As of now, the budget covers five full-time employees, student workers, the contract with Metro Bus and some maintenance equipment.

Funding comes through parking permits, tickets, security done at the St. Cloud Technical College, athletic events and pay-as-you-go lots.

Parking rates have gone up in the last three years, said Associate Director Super. Similar to the 4 Avenue parking ramp, she said, “We want people using the lots to pay the fees.”

For those who use on-campus parking, like students, commuters and residents, Super explained the plan involves a reduced evening rate of $3 and a reduced weekend rate of $5. To help with funding, parking permits would remain in place.

Parking on campus without a permit would be moved to 6 p.m. Parking lots C and V would become free and would also see improvements.

The additional $150,000 would include paying for improved LED lighting, surveillance cameras and better signage around campus.

“We haven’t made these capital updates, because we haven’t been strategic,” Cashman said. In the case funding goes through, 5-year plans have been mapped out for certain areas, which can be found on the Public Safety website.

“ISELF should be the blueprint for our entire campus,” Cashman said.

The building’s features, like its lighting and layout, are similar to the way Cashman explained mapping out certain areas of campus.

Pairing up with the city of St. Cloud, he explained that high-traffic routes like 5 Avenue are planned to be well-lit, with call boxes and camera systems.

The “Husky Way” was said to be for pedestrians, maintaining a lit walkway running down the middle of campus. The path would see blue-light call boxes and cameras, he said. The river walk is also being considered, but it’s not certain that similar improvements will be made.

“We want to make sure this is the safest campus in Minnesota,” he continued, “and we’re not going to compromise.”

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