UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

No official plan to add more parking at UHCL

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In March 2017, UHCL broke ground on the Recreation and Wellness Center and the STEM and Classroom Building, both expected to be open by fall 2018. Construction on a new residence hall will also start soon and is planning to open in fall 2019. In addition to the new buildings, UHCL will be offering a new degree, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, in the fall. Although the university is expanding, UHCL does not have a set plan to add more parking.

“If all of these things attract the kind of attention that we’re hoping that they do, you would kind of anticipate that the overall enrollment of students will increase,” said Gavin Steiger, director of disability services and a member of the parking committee. “The number of faculty and staff that we have might also have to increase. So, that being said, chances are you may need a little bit more parking.”

Steiger said there have been talks about possibly adding two gravel parking lots near the police station.

The B.S. in Mechanical Engineering is expected to bring more students to UHCL. The program is expecting to start with 50 students in its first semester and increase 10 percent every year for five years.

Until now, engineering students at UHCL had to transfer to another school after completing the pre-engineering program that typically takes two years. This degree plan will allow those students to finish at UHCL. It may also encourage more engineering students to enroll at UHCL as freshmen because they can attend the same university the entirety of their degree.

UHCL’s new residence hall will accommodate 300 beds. It will not have its own parking lot or reserved parking spots for residents.

“There was a study done a few years ago that found that we have adequate parking on campus currently to add a 300-bed residence hall,” said Amy Snyder, director of student housing and resident life.

PHOTO: Future campus layout with STEM and Classroom Building (upper right), Recreation and Wellness Center (lower right) and Residence Hall (white building). Photo courtesy of UHCL Housing.
Future campus layout with STEM and Classroom Building (upper right), Recreation and Wellness Center (lower right) and Residence Hall (white building). Photo courtesy of UHCL Housing.

The residence hall will be located between the pond outside of the Student Services and Classroom Building and the Recreation and Wellness Center. The residents will be able to park in any of the existing student lots upon the purchase of a student parking permit. It is still too early to tell how much the new residence hall will affect parking because there are several factors left to consider.

“We don’t know the overall effect on parking until we open the hall and see how many students are choosing to bring a vehicle or would have been a commuter, therefore causing that parking spot to be a wash,” Snyder said.

Snyder said that the largest difference in parking, as a result of the new residence hall, will be the students’ cars being parked overnight. Currently, there is not a large number of cars parked at the campus overnight.

Biology Major Brenda Saraiva expressed concerns for the safety of the students living in the hall who may have to walk across the parking lot to get to their cars at night.

“You’re setting people up to get into at least some awkward situations, if not, in trouble,” Saraiva said. “This is a smaller campus, but, because it hasn’t gotten that big, there hasn’t been that many problems – but it’s going to be a problem.”

Kayleigh Mckee, literature major, thinks that the current parking arrangement creates a hostile and stressful environment before students even reach the classroom.

“UHCL was built as a continuing education center for a small-based group of space program workers,” Mckee said. “UHCL has grown beyond their original purpose and has now stepped into the realm of a four-year college. If UHCL is unable to provide the proper infrastructure needed to provide quality parking to its students who currently attend, they have no business in making more buildings to attract more students to further the issues.”

Other students, like Matthew Henry, fitness and human performance major, are not bothered by the current condition of parking.

“I was at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Central Texas, and I had to walk like a mile to class; so it’s like, I’m fine.” Henry said.

Henry also mentioned he believes if UHCL can make things better, they should always try to improve.

With the current building projects still several months from being finished and the residence hall still in early planning stages, many of the details are still unknown.

It is unsure whether UHCL will add more parking to the campus, although there is no set plan to add more parking at this time.

“At this time, I think that even the parking people could only speculate right now,” Steiger said.

More meetings will be taking place before any final decisions are made regarding parking.

“As the planning continues, we will be taking a look at how other campuses adapt when new buildings are built and make adjustments as we need to at UHCL,” Snyder said.