The Collegian
Saturday, May 28, 2022

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Pandemic parking leads to limited lot space

<p>Modular homes, set up behind Lora Robins Court, act as temporary housing for those infected with COVID-19.</p>

Modular homes, set up behind Lora Robins Court, act as temporary housing for those infected with COVID-19.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article misspelled the reporter's name.

What do isolation trailers, sporting events and officer 27W all have in common? They’ve made parking as a first-year student at the University of Richmond much harder than staying between the lines.

The parking problem began in August 2020, when, as part of planning for an in-person fall semester, UR announced it would be placing several modular units in parking lots that could house up to 150 students in the event of an outbreak, according to a UR Now article. 

Putting the modular units on campus led to some significant parking changes – they significantly reduced the number of parking spaces in both R54, in front of Lakeview Hall, and lot W93, behind Lora Robins Court, which typically has 200 parking spaces reserved for students, said Natalia Green, director of parking services. There were also trailers placed in lot R54 next to Lakeview Hall, but were removed when UR donated five of the trailers to Family Crisis Support Services, an organization that provides emergency shelter and transitional residential housing.

“The first impact last year [in fall 2020] was that freshmen couldn’t have cars,” Green said. “Because the only place we had to put [their cars] was over by athletics, which of course, is for football games, basketball games and patrons parking.”

As of spring 2022, nearly two years later, most of these modular trailer units remain in the parking lot behind Lora Robins Court. 

“We have 124 spaces between the modular units and spaces on campus, including Atlantic House,” said Cynthia Price, associate vice president of media and public relations. 

In fall 2021, first-years were once again able to secure parking permits and bring their cars to campus; however, those students who did bring their cars have reported significant problems with parking. 

“I would say that it’s definitely a nuisance that the trailers are there, if only for the fact that they take up all of the parking space meant for students who live in LoRo,” said Torsten Borowski, a first-year student living in Lora Robins Court.

The extended walk to his car, having been assigned to the lot next to Lakeview Hall, can be tiresome and difficult, especially as the temperature drops and snowfall becomes more frequent, Borowski said.

While the modular units have presented the most consistent limitations on parking space at UR this year, they’re not the only thing students with cars have complained about.  

Ava de Palo, a first-year student living in Dennis Hall who parks her car in lot C66, has found that having to move her car frequently to accommodate sporting events has been a challenge she wasn’t expecting.

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“Before we only had to move [our cars] for football games, but now that more freshmen registered their cars second semester, we have to move them for basketball games as well," de Palo said. "So that entails moving them on Tuesday nights and at random times, which can be really inconvenient when you have classes." 

Despite the frustrating adjustments that Borowski and other first-years have had to face, students have remained polite considering all the pandemic parking changes and new restrictions, Green said.

"You know, believe it or not, I haven't got that many complaints over at parking," Green said, adding that she thought many students were just happy to have a car on campus while parking is limited.

Contact contributor Hayley Simms hayley.simms@richmond.edu.

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