August 24, 1998
Volume 51, No. 1
'Emory West' offers relief from parking headaches
For all the dividends Emory's acquisition of the Georgia Mental Health Institute property will pay down the road, it will yield one significant and immediate benefit--a short-term solution to the University's parking dilemma.
Earlier this month Emory purchased the 42-acre site--now informally called "Emory West"--on Briarcliff Road within a mile of campus. Though Emory West will be the site of a new biotechnology center developed in conjunction with Georgia Tech, the property will play host to a range of other uses. Because the former GMHI buildings are in need of substantial renovations, Emory has not yet identified what many of those uses will be and is in fact being very deliberate in committing financial resources. One immediate payoff, however, will be taking advantage of Emory West as a remote parking lot.
According to the Parking Office's latest figures, Emory will fall some 162 spaces short of what it will need to accommodate roughly 16,000 registered parkers during the 1998-99 year. But the new property can handle hundreds of additional vehicles, so the Parking Office is offering an incentive plan for employees to voluntarily park at Emory West.
Bill Collier, director of parking, said that beginning Sept. 1 employees may volunteer to park at Emory West for no charge through the remainder of the parking year ending Jan. 31, 1999. Volunteers will have either their monthly payroll deduction rescinded or, for those who paid the annual fee in advance, receive a prorated refund for the remainder of the year. No decision has been made whether the free parking will continue after January. Collier's office also is recruiting student commuters to park at Emory West for $42 a year-a savings of $200 from the normal student rate.
Cheryle Crumley, director of alternative transportation, said a shuttle bus schedule is ready to go, with four shuttles running opposite circular routes to campus; two shuttles will come up Briarcliff to Clifton and come in from the northwest, and two others will go across on North Decatur Road and cut through to the Oxford Road gate, coming straight up Pierce Drive. Even during heavy traffic periods, Crumley estimated the ride to or from campus should take no more than 10 minutes.
Collier added that security will be provided at the Emory West parking lot during its hours of operation: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday during the academic year. As an added incentive, the Parking Office will hold a lottery each month for Emory West parking volunteers, with a cash prize going to the winner. Any University hangtag will be honored at Emory West so employees may try out the system to see if it works for them.
Emory is looking for other entities along Clifton to participate in the shuttle program. "This goes back to the goals of the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association [which Emory recently joined]," Crumley said. "This is one opportunity to bring the corridor together and address single-mindedly the traffic and parking issues."
Collier and Crumley consulted with both the traffic and parking committee of the University Senate and with the Employee Council about the Emory West parking plan. Both groups enthusiastically endorsed the concept.
"One thing that's attractive to employees is it's a guaranteed parking place," said Council President Ron Foust. "Often what you have on campus is not a parking permit-it's a hunting license. That's nobody's fault; we're all struggling to overcome this issue."
Parking at Emory West is also in keeping with one of the guidelines of the Campus Master Plan: making Emory more friendly to pedestrians. It will give people a glimpse of what's to come as the University begins slowly moving all private vehicles off campus.
"Hopefully by the time the University Apartments deck comes online, we won't need this lot," Collier said. "But right now we do, and we probably will for the next year or two."
Erick Gaither, executive director of community services, is realistic but hopeful. "We know it may be weeks or months before we get a lot of participation," he said, "but you have to start somewhere."
For more information or to volunteer to park at Emory West, call 404-727-PARK (7275).