While University of Wyoming Housing Task Force members are still discussing other options, some members said this week that building a parking garage on campus will be a priority of the planned dormitories construction.
Earlier this year, a consulting firm completed a study of UW’s parking and concluded that the university doesn’t need more parking, just better shuttles to the university’s off-campus lots.
At a Wednesday task force meeting, Transportation Services Director Paul Kunkel presented three alternative options to the parking garage plan, but task force members indicated the plan from Walker Consultants wouldn’t meet UW’s needs.
“We have to have a parking garage. Period. Maybe two parking garages,” UW Trustee John McKinley said. “We can analyze the alternatives to death, but we have to have a parking garage, and it has to get built into the bond funding as part of this project.”
UW leaders are planning to issue bonds to finance more than $300 million in new dorms.
It’s likely that the new dorms would eliminate about 600 existing parking spots on campus.
Laramie Mayor Joe Shumway, who also sits on the task force, said the city’s considering a move that would also increase the need for a parking garage or two. It’s possible the city could increase the number of city streets that require residential parking permits. The boundary increase could annex another 2,000 spots worth of street parking currently available to faculty, staff and students, Shumway said.
Kunkel presented a proposal for a $15 million parking garage on the corner of 15th and Bradley streets that would have 600 spaces.
He suggested the university could pay for that by essentially tripling the cost of campus parking permits, but task force members didn’t express enthusiasm for that idea.
“I don’t know if it makes sense to load the cost onto the end-users, because then they won’t be used and you won’t alleviate the problem that we created,” McKinley said. “We’re just going to have to bite the bullet on this thing.”
“Agreed,” said Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, who co-chairs the task force.
McKinley said it will be important to reduce the parking burden that UW puts on Laramie’s city streets.
“We have a serious problem that we create for residents around campus with the parking on the streets,” he said.
One idea Kunkel presented would create additional surface parking on the site of dorms that will be demolished. But since those dorms won’t be demolished for several more years, Trustee Kermit Brown suggested that new parking can’t wait that long.
“The major parking structure may need to be the first thing that we build,” he said.