The Parking Problem at East Stroudsburg University

By Rachel Vowcicefski
SC Copy Editor in Chief

Although the animosity regarding the parking situation has somewhat subsided and the topics around campus have changed to other things, that does not keep some of us from still wondering about the decisions that were made about parking at the beginning of this semester here at ESU. In order to have some of those questions answered, I finally had the privilege of sitting down with the ESU parking director Sean Tallarico.

Who made the decision to make the students pay for parking?
It was a decision made by a number of people in the parking committee. I was a part of that committee, along with the Chief of Police, the Vice President of Finance, and members of the Board of Trustees. We talked about what needed to be done and how it should be done, then made an overall decision and sent it to the President and it was approved.

Did the students have anything to do with this decision?
We had talked to the Student Senate and made sure they were aware of what was going on. I’m not really sure if they had much input in the actual decision, but I do know that their input was definitely taken into consideration. They were involved in deciding what parking should cost and what would be an acceptable fee for parking, so they were somewhat involved in making the decision.

Who actually made the final decision to set the parking fee?
It was the parking committee’s joint decision, along with the administration and me. The parking fees were structured around the fact that our funding was cut by Harrisburg. Harrisburg said that each institution is now responsible for maintaining its own parking and would no longer be providing money for such use.

So, we originally received money from Harrisburg for this purpose?
I’m not sure if it was for this purpose alone, but from the money that we were receiving from the State did help to defray the costs of our parking lot maintenance as well as building new lots or parking decks.

Why weren’t the faculty and staff considered for having to pay for parking? When other universities throughout PA make their faculty and staff pay.
That is a union decision, so whatever is decided by a union must be upheld. If the union does not agree, then it cannot be done. What has to be done is that everyone involved have to sit down and negotiate with the unions to determine the fee, when and to whom it would be applied and so forth.

Why are the resident students not made to pay more for their parking permits? Many other schools make their residents pay more to store their cars on campus.
The committee decided on an even distribution. There were a few proposals where the fees were at different levels but the committee decided on the one that was the simplest across the board. We understand that students have it hard as it is so we did what we could to make it low and even. We created more commuter and faculty/staff parking while somewhat reducing resident parking while moving it a bit farther away to make it a bit easier to shut down parking lots for events held on campus especially since we don’t have many commuters coming to campus during the weekends.

How long have the age and credit restrictions been in place for parking?
This has been in place for longer than I have been here. I started in the beginning of 2011, and it has been in place since before then. Keep in mind that this only pertains to those whom are living on campus. As a commuter there is no credit or age restriction, which is why we have more commuter parking spaces than resident ones.

Why was the grace period extended for getting a parking permit at the beginning of this semester? Especially when after this was finished more spaces opened up.
This was a decision made by the parking committee because it was the first time we were charging people to park as well as us having some issues with integrating our new software for keeping track of parking permits with the Banner System. We knew that this was going to create some parking issues during this week, but we felt that because it was a new system and that everyone still needed to figure out what was going on with parking and paying and what not, it would be beneficial for everyone.

Will there be another grace period next semester?
No. Everyone that’s on campus is now familiar with the system. Even if there are incoming students, they will receive information about it during orientation and will be aware of our system. We never worried about the freshman since they were made aware of it from the beginning; it was the upper classman that we were most worried about because it was something new for them to get used to. We hope that once all the bugs in the system have been worked out we will be able to have everyone register their cars online and pay for their permits online, come into the station with their E-card and pick up their new sticker without a hassle and maybe even without a line. This will make us a lot greener and more efficient.

Why can’t we pay for our parking permits and tickets with our tuition money?
Our office had nothing to do with this decision. It was most likely made by the business office or Financial Aid office.

Why did the parking ticket costs increase from $5 two years ago to $15 and up now?
This was another decision made before I began working here so I am unsure.

Do you know why we are no longer allowed to use dimes in the parking meters?
This is an East Stroudsburg Burrow decision. ESU is not responsible for any of the parking meters found on campus, they belong to the Burrow and are maintained by the Burrow.

Where is all the money going from our parking passes and tickets?
Because each university is now responsible for all parking related costs, we have to pay for everything. We have to buy the decals, the software, the paint for spacing the lots, and the rest of the money is going into an account designated for the building of a multilevel parking structure. The Burrow is all as well as most of us here on campus are all for building a parking deck because as ESU grows, we are going to have to continue to make more parking available to the students and staff. Parking decks are expensive and because price is based on number of spaces it all comes down to how much the people in charge are willing to pay for the structure.

Do you have any advice for students?
Get to campus early and plan accordingly. You cannot expect to get a spot at 10AM in the pit since it’s in high demand. Drive a little farther and park up farther so you don’t waste as much time. Catch a shuttle from one of the more open parking lots. They are here for students to use and will help you get to the other end of campus on time. To avoid tickets, park where you should and only where you should. You should also not expect to get a parking space ten minutes before your first class.

To prove his point, Mr. Tallarico took me on a drive to show me how many spaces were in fact available, even though it was already 2 PM.

There were a lot of spots open in almost every parking lot. But being a commuter, I know that most of the parking lots we saw closer to the main part of campus were filled to the brim just a few hours before. Mr. Tallarico told me that they have been doing daily monitoring of how filled the parking lots are at multiple hours of the day in order to assess the parking need.

The lots that almost always have parking available are the library lots, the Minsi lot, and the Fine Arts lot. The Minsi lot can be found by driving as if you were going to the Fine Arts building and stopping at the stop sign before turning into the Fine Arts upper parking lot, make a left and it’s the empty space on your right.

The real problem, according to Mr. Tallarico, is that most students have a walking problem: they do not want to walk to their classes; they do not want to walk to a shuttle. I can certainly agree with that.

However, our problem may not necessarily be with not enough prime parking spaces, it may be with the office that happens to matriculate too many students into the school and schedule too many high volume classes at the same time, causing an overflow of students at certain times of the day and thus the feeling of the need for more parking.

If this problem was addressed it seems that the eminent parking problem may just go away. But let’s just find out what that office has to say.