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CSU officials, students unconcerned about parking during construction

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Kamille Rigsby has to park farther away from Clayton State University's buildings at 3 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tania Aguilar has trouble finding a parking space at all at 8 a.m., on any day of the week.

Despite their troubles, and the loss of some spaces to construction projects, both say the university's parking situation isn't that bad.

"Parking gets a little crazy around here sometimes," Rigsby said. "Overall, I normally don't have a problem finding a good parking space."

Officials at the university had some concerns about whether the school would have enough parking as the school year approached. A record 6,500 students were expected to be enrolled in classes this fall, and construction began on three buildings over the summer, requiring thar some parking spaces be blocked off for use by construction workers.

As it turned out, enrollment wasn't as high as projected, so parking isn't the threat it once appeared to be. Still, the university is having to deal with parking issues at certain times of the day -- mornings and evenings -- when traditional and non-traditional students are arriving on campus.

According to an announcement on the school's parking web site, the Morrow campus' main lots are near capacity. Students are being encouraged to use lots near Spivey Hall, the Harry S. Downs Center for Continuing Education, and the school's tennis courts.

"It was a bit hectic for the first few days of the semester," said Lt. Rex Duke, the interim director of the university's public safety department. "We had some plans worked out in advance, though, and the students did a good job of learning things quickly. We were shutting off Clayton State Boulevard past the Technology Building when those lots became full, and re-directed parking to the area by the continuing education building. By mid-way through the second week of the semester, though, things had settled down."

Construction on student housing, a student activity center, and a new business school added to concerns about growing enrollment. About 230 parking spaces have been temporarily lost to construction projects. Duke said there are between 2,000, and 2,500 parking spaces at the university.

Half of the university's "B" parking lot has been blocked off, so workers have a place to put equipment, while building the adjacent student housing complex. About 50 parking spots have been blocked off in the nearby "C" lot, so workers, who are building the business building, have a place to store building materials.

Ground was broken on the business school in June, while construction began on the housing complex and activity center in August. All three are expected to be finished by August 2008.

In August, Thomas Harden, the university's president, said the school has enough parking spaces to absorb students living on campus next year, but will have to look at adding more as the school continues to grow. University projections peg enrollment at 13,000 students in 2020.

Duke said long range plans include adding at least 200 more parking spaces, likely along Simpson Drive.