Welcome back to no parking spots
By Kristen DeMatos
As a new school year begins, the talk on the Kean University campus is parking. This semester, more complaints are heard in the halls, from both students and faculty.
“In my four years at Kean, I never have seen the parking this bad,” said Daniella DellaLuna, a senior special education major.
Chris Capaldo, a junior, is dumbfounded at how horrible the parking has become.
“I can’t believe how bad the parking situation has gotten at Kean,” said Capaldo. “Students are fighting one another for parking, while others cannot attend class because they can’t find a spot. Even faculty is arriving late to class because of the parking dilemma. This is completely ridiculous!”
Parking is so tight that cars are parked on the soccer field at East Campus, where parking lines were spray painted.
A petition about Kean’s parking has been created on www.change.org, an online platform where anyone can create petitions and invite others to join them in making a change. So far, the campaign has 237 supporters and is seeking an additional 2,763 more.
“Students should not have to fight over parking spots to receive the education they want and are paying for,” the petition states. “This petition is to show that there is a parking problem and students and faculty alike are looking for a solution that has yet to come.”
Several petitioners also commented on the site.
“I am signing because I witnessed a student crying hysterically because she almost had to physically fight for a spot,” Jasmine Wooten of Newark, Del, said on the site. “She was so upset that I almost wished she could park on top of my car. It shouldn’t be that way for a commuter based University.”
A search on Twitter for “Kean parking” produced student complaints and jokes about parking.
“Kean parking gives me anxiety. This university needs to fix this problem ASAP,” tweeted Matt Strzala (@everything_matt).
Another student, Austin Jon Statinsky (@hello_im_austin) joked,“I nominate Dawood Farahi for the “Parking at Kean” challenge; you have 24 hours to find a spot or fix the parking problem.”
Faculty aren’t happy about it either. Kathleen Henderson, President of the Kean University Adjunct Faculty Federation, said it makes no sense that some 1,000 full-time resident faculty and staff, who have to be at Kean by 9 a.m, each day, take up all the parking spaces closest to the campus.
“This leaves those students and adjunct faculty who attend or teach a 50-75 minute classes scrambling every day to find parking and get to their class on time,” said Henderson. “This creates major stress and occasionally gets real ugly.”
She suggests that Kean build an employee lot away from the campus for employees with regular schedules and provide tem with free trolley service at the start and end of each workday to get to the lot.
One reason parking may be so hard to find lately is due to new buildings on campus that are cutting into available space for students, staff and faculty. The new building at the Vaughn Eames parking lot at North and Morris Avenue has taken up almost one-fifth of the parking lot for students to park.
The Green Lane parking lot at Morris Avenue was replaced with the Green Lane Academic Building.
Additionally, students are no longer allowed to park on the top level of the parking deck across the street on Morris Avenue in the Merck Complex. Kean did not return requests for comment about why it’s no longer available.
But a Union Township police officer said he was advised by Kean to enforce the rule banning students from parking in the deck.
“Any student parked in a spot not designated for them is subject to receive a ticket,” the officer told a reporter.
Kean is currently in a dispute with Union Township over the Merck property. Kean wants to purchase the property, but the town wants it to remain a commercial property.
According to Union County freeholders, Merck pays over $1 million in property taxes. Since, Kean University is a public institution, it is tax exempt and does not have to pay property taxes.
Parking problems at Kean are hardly new, Henderson said. She said a few years ago thousands of dollars were paid to architects to present plans on parking.
“Yes, they were ignored…,” said Henderson. “Many of us sat through show and tell plans which included a parking deck over by the residential dorms, and another parking deck across from D’Angola, where the campus school is currently occupying.
This is years later and we still do not see those decks.”
Marco Rodriguez, Timothy Awojobi and Sonia Aquije contributed to this report.