Parking Services initiates new programs, policies to accommodate students

By Celia Harmelink | 10/1/17 10:30pm

GVL / Emily Frye Junior Chad Jackson gives out a parking citation to one unlucky student in Lot H on Jan. 23rd.

With the fall semester already underway, there are some changes to parking at Grand Valley State University.

Lisa Garringer, parking services manager at GVSU, said there are many new initiatives occurring within the department to accommodate students.

There is now additional student parking available on the Pew Campus, with more than 250 new spots to accommodate students. The Walker Fire Station is also going to be expanded so that individuals have access to free transportation with the transit system. 

The business hours for Parking Services have changed as well and can be found on the department's website.

“We’re no longer open in the evening because we weren’t getting the foot traffic to accommodate with staff, so what we’re doing is we’re getting a terminal up front that will be operational,” Garringer said. “People will be able to pay their parking citations and get an overnight permit when we’re after business hours.”

Although that isn’t operational quite yet, Garringer expects it will be finished within the next month. 

“Everything we’re trying to do is with convenience for the GVSU community in mind and for a positive parking experience," she said. "This has kind of been the push over the last couple of years.” 

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Police Department Twitter

Another new program happening is "Food 4 Fines." Parking Services is teaming up with the Replenish food pantry to give GVSU students a new way to pay their parking citations by letting them donate needed items to Replenish. 

"It’s a great way for people to save money when they’re paying their fine, as well as give back to Lakers," said Olivia Caton, parking enforcement supervisor. "It really supports our Lakers-looking-out-for-Lakers mission.”

Caton said the Parking Services website, which has been updated to be more user-friendly, is a great resource to find more information about this program and answers to any other questions individuals might have about parking on campus.

“That is the first place that anyone should go,” Caton said. 

Parking information on overnight parking and enforcement hours; meters; pay stations; motorcycles; permit placement and transferring permits; faculty and staff overnight parking; drive-up privileges for residence halls; disability parking; and disability shuttle services can all be found on the website. 

“We’ve got all of the resources available," Caton said. "Not only can they call us, but we’ve got a parking email. There’s the website that’s got all of the information on there, so we’re trying to work with educating the community as well as getting the compliance that we need.” 

Parking Services also changed the way students could access parking permits by allowing them to purchase them at the Student Services building on the Allendale Campus the first week of classes, as well as on the Pew Campus. 

“We tried to use our website and Twitter through the police department to let people know, but it’s going to be something that we’re going to be doing moving forward to offer that service to our students,” Garringer said.

"Meet the Lot" is another new program that showcases the student employees at Parking Services when they do something noteworthy. 

“We’re putting a more personalized front to the perception of who parking is,” Garringer said.

Last year, Parking Services reached out to students who were repeatedly getting citations to see if there was anything they could do to help them. 

“Some people take us up on it," Garringer said. "They come in, they have a conversation with us, and we can change their perception and the behavior. So it worked really well last year.”

Garringer also said Parking Services wants to interact with the university on a more positive basis. Some of the things Garringer and Caton have been talking about include selecting random students to win a prize for parking positively and offering rewards for graduating students who didn’t have any citations while at the university.

Some alternatives for parking on campus include walking and using the bus system, which Garringer and Caton both highly recommend. 

“The bus for students is essentially free of charge, and not only does it save money in not having to purchase a parking permit, it saves money on vehicle maintenance and gasoline, and you can get dropped off right in front of Mackinaw or Kirkhof," Caton said. "No parking space is closer than that.” 

GVSU is a permit-only campus. Faculty and staff lots, designated spaces, pay stations, and parking meters are enforced year-round, and during business hours, students, faculty and staff must have a permit. 

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