SPAC parking lot reopened to reduce parking difficulties

Janette Neuwahl

A parking lot located along Larc Drive between the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center and the soccer field, closed to students since Spring Quarter to provide space for contractors working on campus construction, has reopened to alleviate the parking crunch, administrators announced Friday in an e-mail.

“Because of all the capital construction projects occurring on campus, we needed parking for contractors so we used (the lot on) Larc Drive in an effort to isolate them,” said Merrill Silverman, Northwestern’s Technical Services Sergeant. “However, now that we have a parking crunch, we created a temporary gravel lot for contractors (on the lakefront) so we can allow Larc Drive to be used for faculty and commuter students.”

According to the Parking Office, there are roughly 3,500 parking spaces on campus.

But the office sells between 6,000 and 8,000 permits each year, leading to on-campus parking troubles.

Although the lot on Larc Drive contains 60 additional spaces, Silverman said the lot was closed because its northern location led faculty and students to select closer parking options in the past.

“Years ago no one used to park there, but as the new buildings began to be built, people were relegated to park on Larc Drive until last spring when we restricted it,” he said.

Even though the increase may be only 60 spaces, students who have experienced parking trouble on campus welcomed the change.

Matt Paolelli, a commuter student from Park Ridge, said he has especially noticed the meager parking on campus for commuters. Paolelli, a Medill freshman, spent an hour looking for a parking spot at the start of Fall Quarter and missed his first class.

“There aren’t too many choices for commuters except for the parking lots by Norris and Tech,” he said. “Even in those, faculty and visitors park there also, so it’s crowded.”

To use the spaces at the Larc Drive lot, students must have a parking permit. Permits are issued to students who live two miles from campus, while faculty and staff receive permits based on their salaries.

Other students who have cars can apply for weekend and evening parking passes and seniors who live on campus can get resident parking.

Silverman said that because many of the lots on North Campus are restricted to resident parking, most faculty and commuters usually rely on lots larger than Larc Drive, such as the South Beach Structure and Garrett lot.