At the end of spring semester in 2019, Wilson announced that the old VMC building and the art barn were to be torn down to create a new parking lot. Hopes of having the new lot finished and ready for use by the time the fall semester started were quickly squashed by layers of unpredicted issues.
“Originally, when we knew we had the money for the new VMC and that we were going to tear the old one down along with the art barn, we knew at that point that we wanted parking there,” said Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students, Dean Mary Beth Williams. “It took them longer than anticipated to remove those two facilities. So, once they did remove those two facilities, what we were going to do was to add on to the existing parking lot that was already there. What we found out, was that due to the nature of the size of the parking lot and where it was, we had to account for run-off, or water drainage. We had to install a drainage system underneath the former barn and VMC, so that delayed it significantly. So, we finally get the drainage system underneath it and we were going to lock it into the new parking lot. Only we found out that when they paved the original parking lot at the front half, they only did it to the depth about one inch of asphalt. So, what happens is, it looks fine for a few years, but when you tie in another one into this one inch of asphalt, our existing one would crumble. What happened was we had to take out the existing Brook’s lot and pave a whole new lot.” All of these delays led to the lighting and the call box being delayed in their installs as well.
Along with the delays for the new parking lot, the stripes for the parking spaces were done incorrectly. Dean Mary Beth commented, “Right now, if you go into the lot, the lines are not striped to code. And there is no lighting, which means that it is too dark for people to park in. Even if you could park there, we’re not in ADA compliance because of the lines are striped incorrectly.” Dean Mary Beth also said that the lines should be restriped within the next couple of weeks along with the call box installation, and the lighting bases should be installed within the next two weeks while the lighting themselves should be arriving in December. And without the lines being striped correctly, it is unclear how many spots will be in the lot, but it should be twice than what it was before.
The lot is expected to open up for the spring semester. “Originally the lot was to open in August, and then we pushed it to September, and then we pushed it to October, and now it is being pushed to January. It is a total pain and I recognize that. There are several issues with that all kind of stemming back to our original construction company and the contractors that we hired for the lot, but it is not for a lack of want. I hear complaints from faculty, staff, and students on a daily basis. So, if people are frustrated, I understand. A day does not go by that I don’t hear someone complain about parking and I apologize,” Dean Mary Beth stated.
Along with the construction of the new lot in Brooks, a new parking lot beside the new VEC was finished. Dean Mary Beth said, “The good news is that we were able to complete the lots where the tennis courts were, and we were able to make two of those lots recreational space that is available to students. So even though the Brooks lot hasn’t been a win, the other side has been a total win.”
Dean Mary Beth continued on saying, “The other thing that I will say is a win for parking right now is we have a very good parking committee and committee structure. We have two students on the committee, two faculty, and two staff. They are very, very efficient. I’m sure not very many people appreciate what they do, but they do a really great job.”
With these new parking lots, come new structures to Wilson’s campus. “Another thing that we’re doing is we’re going to a different ticketing system that will hopefully streamline that process a little bit more because I know people have been frustrated,” Dean Mary Beth stated.
When asked about what the new lot in Brooks will be used for, Dean Mary Beth replied, “We only change lots at the beginning of every year. So, the existing parking committee judges the following year. So last year, when we knew that lot would be open, what we were going to do was extend it as Brooks One. Brooks One is faculty and staff 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. After 5 p.m. it opens up for commuters, and then after 7 p.m. it opens up for residential students. It was going to be the same condition as the existing lot. That being said, the committee this year may change that and decide that it needs to be different. But last year’s parking committee decided that even though they were extending it, that they were keeping the same rules on Brooks One.” She continued on saying, “It’s a big lot. Of course, faculty want it for faculty, students want it for students, commuters want it for commuters, residential want it for residential. So, everyone wants it. That’s the reason on the committee that we have one residential student, one commuting student, faculty, and staff so everyone could have a say. Even though I get asked this all the time by the neighbors and the church, it is not for non-Wilson parking.”
Dean Mary Beth also said, “The parking committee ultimately reports to me, and I manage all of what happens when people pay fines, or they pay for their permits. What that actually pays for is for our ticketing system, our signs, the permits, and it pays for the painting. So, this was an expensive project that was paid for by our community, so we need to get it right. But I don’t manage construction projects. I’m just the bearer of bad news about them. If anyone has any questions, they can always ask me, and I can pass it on to the parking committee. And if someone wants to be on the parking committee next year, we always take two students.”