Community college students vie in race for parking space Low priority to add lots is criticized

December 18, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Every weekday, Rebecca Bassfore and more than 11,000 other Anne Arundel Community College students engage in a game of mathematical improbability: finding an open parking space.

"There's never enough parking," complained Bassfore, a second-year environmental science major who battles for one of 3,412 spaces at the school where everyone is a commuter. "It's a pain in the butt."

One of her competitors, Sarah Rowley, said she has to start her quest for a space before Regis and Kathie Lee start their morning show.

"To get a good parking space, you've got to get here before 9 a.m.," said Rowley, a second-year general studies major. "Everybody likes to come to the campus around 10, and that's when the spaces are gone."

The complaints come days after the school's board of trustees approved a $60 million revision of the college's facilities master plan that includes renovation of 20 of 25 buildings on the Arnold campus, possible construction of more classrooms, and a study of sidewalks and other road improvements. It also could mean construction of three new parking lots on the 230-acre site just off Route 2.

The revisions are part of a 10-year campus master plan, the third in the school's 34-year history, said Dr. Edgar E. Mallick Jr., vice president of finance, planning and administration.

"We wanted to update the plan to make sure our priorities are in order," he said. "The intent of the plan is to give us a planned and systematic development of the Arnold campus."

The college has changed since it first held 48 evening-only courses for 270 students at Severna Park High School in 1961. The college moved to Arnold in 1967 and now has 1,979 courses and an enrollment of 11,278.

A 64,000-square-foot allied health center on the West Campus was completed in 1994, and a 9,000-square-foot addition is being built on the science building on the main campus. The school's new $8.2 million fine arts building on the West Campus will be dedicated this spring.

The revised plan entails replacing the roofs and mechanical systems on the buildings, many of which are at least 25 years old, Mallick said. College officials also want to study the traffic situation on campus and make financial preparations for the possibility of two new buildings of classrooms and offices, each about 60,000 square feet, he said.

Mallick acknowledged that an increase in student population has caused a shortage of parking spaces, but believes that many of the students are upset because they can't find a space close to their classes.

Mallick said he thinks a new 460-space parking lot being built in front of the fine arts building should alleviate the problem for at least a couple of years. If not, the plan does include construction of three new lots totaling 867 spaces and an expansion of an existing lot by 332 spaces.

But an overwhelming majority of students agree that parking space should take precedence over classroom space.

"The classrooms are half-filled anyway," said Joyce Hodges, a second-year human services major. "Better parking is more important."

And even when students do find a space, it's far from perfect.

"You have to walk in from the back," said Andrea Bantug, a first-year radiology major who arrives at least an hour before class to get a space. "Then you're late for class."

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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