It was a packed house Wednesday morning in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl, as members of the campus community discussed parking concerns.
UND is holding forums to get input on potential changes to its parking services, including the possibility of increasing parking permit fees and changing the current parking format to a tiered system.
Currently, parking is partially subsidized from other sources, and that support will not be a part of the new plan, said UND Vice President of Facilities Mike Pieper. UND wants parking to be self-sufficient in five years, meaning no subsidies from other parts of campus, Pieper said.
Parking permits and fees must provide enough revenue to operate, maintain and develop parking lots and spaces, he said. Additionally, one goal of the new model is to dedicate funds for parking lot maintenance and construction.
A 2012 parking lot assessment looked at the deterioration of each parking lot and road surface where parking is allowed on campus. The assessment gave UND a score of 51, or "poor," just one level up from the very bottom rung. Industry standards hold that higher education institutions should maintain their hard parking surfaces to score at least 80, or "satisfactory," Pieper said.
In order to obtain a score of 80 or higher, it would take an investment of more than $32 million, he said.
The school currently does not have a set amount the cost of parking permits would increase should changes be made to the current format, Pieper said. Officials have also not yet decided what those changes could look like for students, faculty and staff. But a tiered system has been discussed.
General student parking permits increased this year for the first time in many years. Student rates are now $185 a year, which is up $30 from the past seven years. Staff parking permits have stayed at $225 since 2011.
Many faculty spoke out against the tiered system and asked the university to consider the human impact of possible changes.
Jeremy Malheim, who serves on the staff Senate and is the director of technology at the College of Engineering and Mines, said there are many people in his department and others around campus who make around $30,000 who likely won't be able to afford whatever the potential cost increase is for a parking permit, even if the Legislature votes to increase pay during the session.
Additionally, if the campus goes to a tiered system, those individuals might have to park a long way away and take a bus to get to their offices in the morning, adding to their already long hours.
"Personally, I'll pay whatever for parking, but there's a lot of people that just don't have that ability; it's not in their budget," he said. "We have to talk about what it's going to do to those people and how we're going to help them."
One student also questioned the status of parking for students living on campus in both residence halls and apartments. Pieper said resident hall and campus apartment parking lots will be separate from total campus parking changes, noting that housing could choose to either lower or raise prices on their own.
Any changes made to the parking structure at UND would not go into effect until August.
Pieper and UND Vice President for Finance and Operations Jed Shivers emphasized that no final decisions have been made. The university may also roll out a survey about parking sometime in the near future for campus community feedback.
The next forum will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. April 15 in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.