by HEATHER JANSSEN
The building of a new fitness center at the University of Nevada, Reno is set to begin construction in the fall of 2014. This seemingly exciting addition to campus, however, is putting a portion of student parking at risk.
Students each day use the metered parking lot in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union. The popular parking lot, however, may not be available for that much longer. Starting next fall, construction will be underway for the E.L. Wiegand fitness center in that very parking lot. One student, Rachel Olbur, parks here often and feels strongly about the issue.
“I think that it is not in favor of the students. This past year the university took away the Whalen parking garage and gave it to the faculty members, which is understandable but that’s just taking away more parking from students when our university is indeed growing.”
The parking lot loss may seem detrimental to student parking, but Caden Fabbi, liberal arts senator for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, is confident that this change has more positives than negatives.
“You know, the idea behind this thing is that this is going to make our degree look better years from now. It’s going to help with recruitment, it’s going to help with retainment, students are going to be attracted to this new fitness facility. People are going to be living healthier, theoretically. We’re promoting health and wellness through this.”
However, many students worry that there will be less parking at the university in the future, while they believe that there should be more. Michelle Horton, head of the UNR parking services department understands their concerns. Horton has plans to accommodate for students in what she believes is the only way she can at the moment.
“Meters really are for short-term parking, for visitors, for running errands, for people that just need to come and go real quickly. I’m hoping this deters students from using the meters and they start purchasing permits through our department. Meters will still be available. I’m going to have 150 of them in the Whalen. Students can still do it, it’s just going to be relocated. Which actually some people are happy about because it’s covered.”
The Brian J. Whalen parking garage is conveniently located next to the metered parking that will be removed. The slight loss of parking means there will be a new fitness center for future students to use come 2016.
The new facility will be four stories and will double the size of fitness space that the university now has at Lombardi. There is talk that the dance department may find their new home with dance studios in the new building. Some of the other new amenities Wiegand will include are more fitness equipment, more classroom space, three full size gymnasiums, an indoor track, and more. Kenny Desoto, an employee at Lombardi, is excited for the new fitness center.
“I’m really excited because obviously Lombardi gets really packed at the same time everyday. It’s gonna be nice to have more equipment and more space for everyone to move around.”
But parking problems, an already common student complaint, may get worse. University officials say they will not be building more parking in the next 10 years.
View a Full UNR Parking Map Showing the Affected Areas Here