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Published in CenterView on July 07, 2014

New parking assignments support growing enterprise

Media Contact: Bruce Coleman at 601-984-4743 or bcoleman@umc.edu.

An unavoidable formula at academic medical centers today goes something like this: a burgeoning enterprise + limited space = a major parking challenge.  That challenge at the University of Mississippi Medical Center officially begins July 14.

To make way for the Translational Research Center, Parking Garage C, a new School of Medicine building and other projects at UMMC, as many as 650 employees who have assigned parking spaces on campus will be required to relocate their vehicles to other lots or to Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

While the UMMC Parking Committee, in coordination with Physical Facilities, has been working for months to mitigate the impact these projects will have on campus parkers, the fact remains that the path to a promising future is rarely convenient in the present. 

“There’s really not a single person on campus that will not be impacted by this construction in some form or fashion,” said Dr. James E. Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs. “Even if you’re not being affected by the parking relocation, you’re still going to be affected by different traffic patterns or more traffic at the stadium.

“What we need to keep in mind are all the great things that will happen. This is progress. This is growth. This is good for each of us as individuals, and it’s good for the university. 

“The short-range pain will be worth it in the long run.”  

The multidisciplinary parking committee, which consists of representatives from virtually every major department at the Medical Center, has developed a plan that will help those who are being displaced from their usual on-campus spaces transition to new parking accommodations.

It is an effort that is as meticulous as it is complex.

Phase One

The parking relocation will take place in two phases, each of which corresponds with planned construction projects on the north side of UMMC’s main campus.

During the first phase, construction of the eight-story Translational Research Center, which will be located just northwest of the Arthur C. Guyton Research Center, will claim Lots 3 and 3A. In addition, state requirements for the preparation of Parking Garage C construction just east of the School of Dentistry building will claim Lot 35. In all, 423 parking spaces will have to be relocated by Monday, July 14.

“The committee anticipates that the ‘overflow lot’ at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium will be able to accommodate those relocated by (phase one) construction,” said Chris Burney, interim executive director of planning, design and construction.

Phase Two

Construction of the School of Medicine building – which will anchor the Medical Center’s educational district – and Parking Garage C, the widening of East University Drive from south of Central University Avenue to the Woodrow Wilson frontage road, and the building of the Meridian at Fondren complex – a mixed-use facility across Lakeland Drive from the main campus – are among the projects scheduled to impact surface lots beginning in January 2015.

These projects will claim up to 350 additional parking spaces, including the Verner Holmes Learning Resource Center Lot 19 and Lots 22, 25 and 28 on Lakeland Drive.  

To accommodate those relocated from campus parking during phase two construction, additional lots surrounding Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium will be made available. 

Lot C, the horseshoe-shaped lot adjacent to the northwest side of the stadium, will provide parallel parking, while Lot D, a crescent-shaped area on the West Street side of the stadium, will be made available. The two lots combine to offer 240 spaces. An unimproved parking area on the eastern side of the Medical Towers Building also will be made available for parking.

Parking Policy

The Parking Policy, adopted by the committee in 2012, outlines the method by which available spaces on the Medical Center campus are to be allocated.

The policy stipulates that all UMMC employees are to be assigned to one of five hierarchical groups – Group A for administrative and academic officers, Group B for department chairs, Group C for faculty, Group D for directors and administrators and Group E for staff. Students are not included in the parking hierarchy, although residents are assigned to Parking Garages A or B because of their unique role in the institution. Within each group, individuals are ranked according to their continuous service to the institution.

Therefore, an individual in Group B would receive priority in campus parking over an individual in Group D, for example, or an individual in Group E with 23 years of service would receive priority over another individual in Group E with eight years of service, and so forth.

According to Michael Switzer, associate director of energy management and sustainability, the Parking Policy represents the “governing instrument” for the committee in determining which individuals will retain a parking space on campus and which will be relocated to stadium parking because of construction.

“We’re bringing everyone into the hierarchy, reordering each of the five groups and redistributing the parking accordingly,” Switzer said. “Going forward, whatever campus parking availability we have will be distributed fairly.”

“The committee is doing its very best to manage the wording and the intent of the policy,” said Michael Estes, chief human resources officer. “We are trying to stay true to that.”

UMMC’s Parking Policy is available online at (http://bit.ly/1rQ2vBK).

Stadium Parking

Those who do park on campus pay a monthly premium of approximately $30 for a surface lot space or $78 for a parking garage space. Parking for all stadium lots is free for UMMC employees, students, patients and visitors. Automatic parking charges will no longer be deducted from the paychecks of on-campus parkers who move to stadium parking.

“The Medical Center pays Jackson State University $600,000 a year to lease that space at the stadium,” said Ivory Bogan, executive director of facilities management. “We are also responsible for maintaining the fenced-in areas, including the overflow lot – but not the roads.”

Most employees displaced from their usual campus parking spaces during phase one construction will be relocated to the stadium. Others whose on-campus parking assignments aren’t directly affected by construction may be reassigned to the stadium anyway to make room for relocated parkers with more seniority or greater rank in the hierarchy.

Burney said individuals who retain a campus parking space during phase one construction may still have to move to the stadium when phase two begins.

“There may be people with more seniority that may bump them to the stadium,” Burney said, “but I don’t think there’s anybody that will have to be moved more than twice.”

Physical Facilities

Physical Facilities has prepared for the influx of additional parkers at the stadium by adding two shuttle buses during peak traffic times and restriping spaces near the covered shuttle stops for additional disabled parking.

“We’ve added the shuttles to accommodate not only disabled parkers, but employees being moved to the stadium,” Bogan said. “Our peak times are from 6-9:30 a.m. and from 2:30-6 p.m.

“We usually run five shuttles; this will be seven – two for the Gold Line and the rest for the Blue and Red Lines.”

Gold Line shuttles service the School of Health Related Professions and the Norman C. Nelson Student Union; Red Line shuttles service the School of Nursing; and Blue Line shuttles service the main campus. All are disability accessible and two are wheelchair accessible.

To help ease traffic congestion entering and exiting the stadium on North State Street – especially during peak traffic times – individuals approaching the stadium from the west should consider using the West Street entrance (Click for diagram).  

According to Estes, the Medical Center is required to have a certain number of disability-designated spaces based on a formula set by law.

“A certain number of those spots have to be placed where wheelchair access is reasonably provided,” Estes said, “and the spaces must be located near a sheltered area.”  

Only vehicles authorized to do so by state law will be permitted to park in the disabled parking spaces.

Bogan said once phase two parking relocations have been implemented, Physical Facilities will issue upgraded parking decals to individuals who qualify for on-campus parking.

Stadium Security

The addition of hundreds of parkers surrounding Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium provides a significant challenge for UMMC’s Campus Police, which monitors the lots and overflow area from approximately 5 a.m.-midnight.

 Arty Girod, director of police and logistical services, said the plan is to add additional officers to cover the overflow lot and lots C and D. But a more visible Campus Police presence isn’t the only security enhancement planned for the stadium.

During phase one construction, the Parking Committee plans to have security fences installed around Lots C and D at the stadium, in anticipation of their use during phase two construction.

 “We’re trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible for people coming to the stadium to do things they shouldn’t,” Girod said. “Fencing allows us to create travel paths where larger numbers travel, which allows us to monitor them better.

“We don’t close the gates to make it harder for employees to get to campus; it’s an effort to maintain a safer environment.”
The committee also is investigating adding security cameras throughout stadium parking and emergency call boxes near lots C and D, and is negotiating with JSU to leave the lights turned on in the “horseshoe” area late at night.

 “Any time there’s additional cameras and enhanced lighting, it helps us do our job and is a deterrent to crime,” Girod said. “But there’s no substitute for individuals paying attention to their surroundings and notifying Campus Police if they see something that’s of concern to them.”

Parking Garage C

Parking Garage C, scheduled to be completed approximately one year after construction begins in November, will allow many of those who are being moved to the stadium lot to return to campus parking, although at a higher rate – as much as $85 per month.

Meanwhile, Burney said as parking resources become available on campus, the Parking Committee will ensure that any available spaces will be allocated among UMMC employees in a fair and appropriate manner in adherence to the institution’s Parking Policy.

“What I would ask of everyone is patience,” he said. “If we don’t claim these lots now and build this garage, the situation can’t get any easier.

“The garage is like breaking eggs to get an omelet: You’ve got to break eggs to make something better.”

For more information about parking at UMMC or for specific questions regarding parking at the Medical Center, email the Parking Office at parking1@umc.edu.

FAQs

•  Exactly which areas at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium are available for parking?
On July 14, Medical Center employees and students may park in stadium lots A, B and the overflow lot. When phase 2 construction begins in January 2015, they also may park in stadium lots C and D and the unimproved lot next to the Medical Towers building (Click to see diagram).  

•  Where can people with disabilities park at the stadium?
Numerous designated “disabled parking” spaces are available in stadium lot B and the overflow lot. They are located adjacent to each UMMC shuttle stop in those lots (Click to see diagram).  

• What are the best access routes to enter and leave the stadium parking lots?
Vehicles traveling northbound on State Street can enter the stadium lot by Lower East Stadium Drive. Vehicles traveling southbound on State Street can enter the stadium lot by Upper East Stadium Drive, directly across from the main State Street entrance to the Medical Center. Vehicles may enter the stadium lots from West Street by Lower West Stadium Drive, directly across from the Farmer’s Market entrance, or Upper West Stadium Drive, the entrance closest to the overflow lot (Click to see diagram).    

•  I have a parking space in a lot that is not closing. Why am I being reassigned to the stadium? 
The Medical Center’s Parking Committee is adhering to the institution’s existing parking policy in determining the new parking assignments. The policy applies to all employees at the Medical Center, so individuals who park in every lot on campus are eligible to be relocated. Many employees who park in lots affected by construction have positions in the hierarchy that require them to be moved to another lot on campus. Those who are being relocated to the stadium lots were selected to do so because of their respective job’s hierarchy level and the individual’s respective hire date.

•  I have been informed that my parking space will be relocated, but I am not being assigned to the stadium. Where will I park on July 14?
Final parking assignments for all employees displaced to other lots on campus have not been determined as of press time. These employees will receive email notification of their new parking assignment as soon as possible. Every attempt will be made to provide this information at least one week in advance of the relocation.