By TNH Editorial Staff
The University of New Hampshire’s Durham campus has a growing population. The class of 2018 is the university’s largest in history with just under 3,400 students, and beyond that the university is only ramping up its advertising efforts.
While all this growth is exciting for both the town and university, accommodations must be made for the increase in student population. As the number of students on campus grows, so must housing availability, study and academic space, and room for parking.
The university has recently added and renovated a number of housing complexes like Haaland, Handler and Peterson Halls, as well as the Woodside and Gables apartments. Dimond Library is state of the art and certainly provides ample study space for students—even during finals week. But the lack of parking availability on campus is troublesome for students looking to park in the heart of campus. During the week, much of A Lot is reserved for commuter students. A Lot is also located relatively far from academic buildings and the downtown area. B Lot sees similar issues with limited meter parking and the fact that nearly every space is reserved during weekdays from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Parking that is available to students during the day is limited to C Lot, street parking and various lots off Pettee Brook Lane by Sammy’s Market and behind the new Madbury Commons complex.
Over the summer in 2014, the town of Durham attempted to increase parking by adding spaces on the left side of Main Street by Pettee Brook Lane merge. This was a step in the right direction, but the additions had problems and were unsafe. As a result, they were removed shortly after the commencement of the fall 2015 semester.
If we are already experiencing parking problems as a university at our present size, how will we possibly be able to accommodate a growing student body? The answer: constructing a parking garage.
The garage could go in the space that is currently occupied by C lot, assuming that it would be economically viable and safe. The amount of spaces that a garage could add would make it easier for students to park downtown. It also seems likely that more students would be prone to driving and parking downtown as a result of the increased parking availability the garage would bring.
This is would be beneficial for both UNH and Durham businesses. UNH would benefit because the increased number of students utilizing parking would create revenue. Durham businesses would also favor a garage being added because it would increase foot traffic on Main Street. If more students, parents and alumni walk by the small businesses that line Main Street, they are more likely to step in and support the businesses. Lastly, Durham residents would no longer be faced with competing for parking spots with students.
The parking garage is not the only the option, but at least a project worth talking about. This is not a businesses proposal or detailed plan, but rather a conversation starter. Adding parking is certainly something that ought to be on the forefront of UNH and Durham administrators’ minds.