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Official: Parking garage a possibility

Plans for a much sought-after parking garage on campus are ready to be approved this year, a university official said.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills said an updated master plan of the university’s proposed building projects, with proposed locations for a parking garage, has been submitted to the board of trustees for approval in 2010.

“I think the first phase of the master plan is generally considered five to six years, and I think there would be a parking garage in that first phase,” Mills said.

Proposed locations for a garage include area west of the stadium and on the east side of campus along West Berry Street, Mills said.

The biggest issue with building a parking garage is funding, Mills said.

According to a 2002 Skiff article, plans for a parking garage were put on indefinite hold by the board of trustees because of the estimated $5.5-$7.5 million cost.

Mills said increasing parking fees was up for discussion.

“We did a survey a few years ago,” Mills said. “We asked students if they’d like a parking garage. Of course they all said yes, and then (we) said, ‘Would you pay more to be able to use a parking garage?’ and they all said no. So it’s always an issue of how things get paid for.”

Discussion about increasing parking fees will continue because a garage isn’t in the Campaign for TCU budget, Mills said. But he said the garage would probably be funded by general operating funds.

“There isn’t fundraising for a parking garage in the Campaign for TCU,” Mills said. “Typically in a campaign, you’re able to raise funds for buildings that are a little sexier than a parking garage, like a union or a Scharbauer Hall or something like that.”

Mills said a previous a quote of $10,000-$12,000 per parking space would only build a basic garage. However, if a garage is built, it would not be a basic parking garage, Mills said.

“If we wanted to build a parking garage that fit in with the other buildings on the outside and was attractive, then the costs go up just depending on how much you want,” Mills said. “And I would want a parking garage that had a lot of cameras, lots of lights. On some campuses, they put the police department inside a parking garage, and I think we’d want to consider that as well.”

Marlon Figueroa, president of the Student Government Association, said there are some ideas on ways to keep a garage safe.

Figueroa said one idea is to have an eatery or shops in the building to make it an interactive place that students would want to frequent, generating traffic in the area so that there is always activity in the garage.

“It won’t just be a box of parking spaces,” he said. “There are so many dangers that can happen at night. We don’t want anyone getting raped or mugged or anything like that.”

This spring, 150 commuter parking spots were lost when construction began on the new admissions building, Mills said.

Students voiced concerns about the closing of the lot on Stadium Drive, Figueroa said.

“I’ve definitely heard students ask me, ‘Why did that happen?’ and ‘Now I have to walk more,’ but again, we’re working on it in the sense of the shuttle,” Figueroa said.

Mills said about 100 spaces have been added back around campus, including the lot in the east side of campus where the academic trailers used to sit. The campus was notified of the lot closure before Christmas, he said.

According to a Dec. 17 e-mail from DeAnn Jones, coordinator of parking and transportation services for the TCU Police Department, the lot would close Dec. 20 until completion of the admissions building.

Watch the TCU News Now parking garage report.

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