Space Too Good To Waste
By Michael Petrino
There is no shortage of parking at Amherst College. There is a misallocation of parking at Amherst College.

The recent "short-term" measures implemented by the College have displaced residents of Mayo-Smith and Newport who wish to park in their respective parking lots. However, we are not the only ones affected. As a car-possessing resident of Mayo-Smith, I have yet to park in the Hills lot, or the God-forsaken O'Connell lot. Instead, in accordance with College policy, I take the spots of those drivers living in Seelye and Hitchcock. Sorry, you would too if you were I.

If I can't find a spot in those respective lots, I park in Alumni, where I have noticed many rather ingenious displays of "creative parking" and far less than an abundance of space. I don't think it unlikely that I have taken a spot someone else would otherwise have absent the College's "short-term" measures.

I have noticed over the past two weeks that Newport's parking lot has remained close to capacity every business day. However, Mayo-Smith' s lot is far from filled. There are twenty spaces in the lot, excluding two handicapped spots and several creative spots-one of which is utilized by the custodian. This past week, the maximum number of faculty and staff cars, excluding the custodian, was eight. I made multiple observations, Monday through Thursday morning.

Furthermore, I've also seen several creative efforts in the Converse lot this year. This clearly displays the reluctance of people to park at Mayo-Smith for some reason-most likely they desire proximity to their place of work.

It seems that we don't need more parking. We need more parking where faculty and staff want parking. In suggesting some solutions I'd like to reiterate a proposal made in a letter to the editor last week by Chris Conley '02. The one-way road in front of Converse Hall is wide enough for slanted parking. This would alleviate some illegal parking creativity in the Converse lot and is a very inexpensive measure.

I see two more substantial solutions. First, there is land behind the president's house that is not being used. I'm assuming that faculty and staff working in College and Morgan Halls prefer the Newport lot because it is closer to their offices than Mayo-Smith's lot. Perhaps using some of that land for an expanded lot is a solution. It has trees on it, but it's far from a forest. Barring a protest by the contingent that finds Western civilization in all its forms, including parking lots, evil, this seems to be an effective solution to restore parking for Newport residents. This land is far short of a wildlife preserve, and I believe the piped plover will be spared.

Second, there is a green expanse behind Seelye and Mayo-Smith. Once again I must revise my language: a semi-green lot. A path is worn through it, the grass is not maintained, and it contains a few austere trees-urinary respite for the males of the community during drunken peregrinations from house to house. Expand the Mayo-Smith parking lot as well; there

doesn't seem to be any reasonable objection.

If this piece of green is so important to the aesthetic of the landscape, why is it not better maintained? Put some benches and a garden there. Entice a rich alumnus to donate a lot of money in exchange for some sort of monument on it. At least, kill the weeds permeating the space, using environmentally friendly methods, of course. Given the current parking situation, this land is too potentially useful to preserve in its dilapidated state.

If short-term measures persist, these two propositions constitute a good solution. Employees do not get to park exactly where they want, but I'm not so sure that town permits would allow them to park appreciably closer. Greater capacity in the Converse lot seems to be the most amiable solution, but that underground garage is a ridiculously ambitious project. Absent any radical change in policy, these short-term measures may become long-term solutions, but they are only sustainable if both the Mayo-Smith and the Newport lots are expanded.

Michael Petrino is a member of the Class of 2003.

Issue 03, Submitted 2000-09-19 14:21:02