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The Alternatives
Instead of ruining an invaluable tract of urban forest to provide parking for incoming freshmen, UNCA needs to reframe the problem: take the focus off accommodating more cars and instead reduce the need for parking.

Here’s a list of the alternatives that have come out of several public meetings with concerned community members. The list is a work-in-progress as we research each option. Feel free to send us further suggestions or comment on the ones proposed at friends@uncaforest.org.

WE’RE COMMITTED TO RESEARCHING THESE AND OTHER ALTERNATIVES AS A COMMUNITY SERVICE TO UNCA!

SHORT-TERM SOLUTIONS:

By fall 2004 (The first two goals here should easily take care of 300 new parking spaces and keep the university out of the woods):

  • As a temporary measure for fall, UNCA could use the temporary lot that abuts the creek on the back entrance to UNCA. I understand that the school received a grant to restore that area back to a natural state. The school could post-pone receiving that grant (but still pay close attention to buffering the creek!) in the short-term to keep from having to deforest for a new lot. This would ease their problem until the other progressive parking changes took effect. At that time, they could restore the wetland.
  • Turn University Heights into a one-way street and turn the newly added space into parking spaces;
  • Add parallel parking to the Chestnut Ridge road above UNCA;
  • Put perpendicular spaces on the road that goes to the forest station off Weaver Blvd. (may have to take out the grass there, but that is better than taking out forest)
    (If these two are not a possibility then we can add sophomores to the next goal.)
  • Restrict freshman from bringing cars to campus, with an easy appeal process for those who live off campus, or have work that requires a vehicle (Most schools do this!! UNCA is the exception to the norm!!)
  • Find extra spots in existing lots to solve the short-term crisis. For example, someone mentioned that the second deck of the Creative Retirement Center is always empty;
  • Increase parking enforcement;
  • Increase Bulldog express service hours and tack fee onto student tuition;
  • Plan ahead for future meetings and post notices at least two weeks ahead of time in local media and on UNCA web site;
  • Conduct a survey to accurately determine campus car drivers' usage habits and expectations;
  • Raise parking fees to dissuade illegal parking and increase parking enforcement;
  • Through the admissions department, the university could contact incoming freshmen and ask them if they would be willing to pledge not to bring a car on campus for the fall (after explaining the situation and the threat to the forest). Perhaps a grant could be written to reward these students with a new bike.

LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS:

  • Work with city for better public transportation!!!; Warren Wilson kept from having to build a new parking lot by working with the city to put a dedicated bus line in place. Instead of a parking permit fee in tuition, each student pays $56 in their tuition to cover the cost of the bus line. They only have to show their student ID to get on the bus, which has extended hours of service just for WW.
  • Have a city-run or school-run bus or trolley system that would go to high frequency neighborhoods on a given schedule.
  • Take the parking fees out of tuition and make parking a separate, voluntary fee (right now everyone pays $75 whether they bring a car to school are not…that fee is somehow tied into the bond that paid for a parking deck on campus … will post more about this as we get information);
  • Along with having parking taken out of student fees, and having an optional flat rate, it would be beneficial to have a by-day parking fee (say $2.50/day), so that people who only drive when it is raining or below zero would be rewarded and encouraged to drive less.
  • Substantially increase parking fees as an incentive not to drive as well as to the cover expense of alternative programs (make it in-line with what other schools are charging.)
  • Implement an aggressive ride-share program. One attendee mentioned that he once worked at a factory that did this and, after the training sessions, the problem was quickly solved;
  • Increase off-campus satellite parking with a shuttle service. Possibilities mentioned: Riverside Drive; Steinmart; the site across from City Bakery on Charlotte Street where the old Ingles used to be; Westgate; Ingles on Merrimon; parking decks within the city; local churches;
  • Start a car-share program (find out more about UNC-Chapel Hill's program and similar programs in Europe);
  • Start a "yellow bike" program where students would have free use of
    a bike;
  • Reevaluate and increase service of the Bulldog Express public transportation system and aggressively advertise it. Hand out maps with bus routes during freshmen orientation and post bus schedules in public places;
  • Set a target number for how many cars we have to have at UNCA and stay true to that number;
  • More bike racks;
  • Implement incentives for ride-sharing and alternative transportation. For example, trade a parking permit for a campus job;
  • Stagger campus class schedules in relation to the parking problem in order to reduce demand at certain times;
  • Dedicate a page of the UNCA website to carpooling;
  • Marketing: Promote the benefits of restricted parking to change "negative" perceptions into positive ones. There are health benefits, reduced costs to the environment, fewer car accidents and incidents of drunk driving, peace of mind, etc;
  • Marketing: Promote UNCA as a walking-campus like UGA;
  • As an incentive to dissuade environmentally unsustainable cars, make more compact car parking available;
  • Provide on-campus bike shop maintenance (Note: someone wrote in to say this was already available);
  • Aggressively promote the Broadway Greenway;
  • More incentives: free bus passes, free lunch to public transportation users; a program where freshmen would agree to not take a parking permit in exchange for a free bike (we could find grant money for this);
  • Form a student committee on transportation to work with UNCA's new Transportation Director;
  • Hire a Transportation Director who is an expert on alternative transportation;
  • Keep the lines of communication open with students and community members and allow them help you reach these positive goals;
  • Embrace and recognize the value of the forest in an official way with a conservation easement
  • Expand the Botanical Gardens to include the forest with state funding (see Athens, Ga., State Botanical Garden model).
  • Require a short course in "environmental stewardship" (much like the library literacy course students have to take) that would show in-coming students how driving a car impacts health and environment. The environmental literacy course would cover global warming, the urban heat-island effect, etc.
  • Don’t give parking permits to those who live within one mile of the school. (There would be exceptions, of course, for those who needed to drive for some good reason.) It’s very common for people at other universities to have to walk or bike a ways to get to school.

Proposed area for parking lot just off WT Weaver Boulevard, at the entrance to the Forest Service Research Station.
Map not to scale.
Friends of the UNCA Urban Forest - friends@uncaforest.org