By Harold Gwin
The Student Government Association favors a revamp over demolition.
YOUNGSTOWN — The Student Government Association at Youngstown State University doesn’t want to see the campus’s Lincoln Avenue parking deck torn down — at least not until a plan to replace its more than 1,200 parking spaces is in place.
The SGA has passed a resolution urging the university to consider renovating the deck instead, giving it an additional 10 to 15 years of useful life while other parking facilities are created.
The YSU Board of Trustees approved funding for the demolition of the deck and its replacement with a 375-space surface lot in February as part of a $47 million borrowing package for a variety of campus improvements.
The tentative timetable shows April 2010 as the date to begin that project with a price tag estimated at $4.1 million.
The demolition and replacement with a surface facility, however, is a two-year process under the university’s plan and would leave a serious deficiency of parking spaces, said Mike McGiffin, SGA president.
Although the university has indicated parking facilities could be created around the perimeter of campus to cover the need, no specific plan has been developed to do that, he said.
The SGA suggests that YSU spend $4.1 million to renovate the lot, a cost based on engineering figures prepared for the university, a move that would extend the life of the 37-year-old deck by 10 to 15 years. That would provide time to plan and develop other parking facilities, McGiffin said.
In lieu of that, the university should at least develop a plan to provide adequate parking spaces before beginning the demolition, he said.
“We just can’t afford to lose 1,200 spaces,” he said, pointing out that the Western Pennsylvania tuition break recently approved by the trustees is likely to increase the number of both commuter and residential students coming to campus.
Only about 1,300 of YSU’s 13,000 students live on campus.
A review of campus parking statistics shows that the lots are at about 95 percent capacity now between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays, McGiffin said.
The campus has slightly more than 6,100 parking spaces.
The question to be addressed is whether it is worth it to spend money to renovate the Lincoln Avenue deck now, knowing that the university will still have to spend money to tear it down and build new lots in 10 to 15 years, said Danny O’Connell, YSU’s director of support services.
The university is looking at various scenarios, he said.
Demolishing the deck now and putting a 375-space surface lot at that location and building spaces for an additional 825 cars elsewhere would cost about $9.3 million.
O’Connell said no timeline has been developed for finding those new spaces, but land next to the Beeghly College of Education on Rayen Avenue and property on the west side of Fifth Avenue or south of Lincoln Avenue could be utilized.
Renovating the deck and then going through the same demolition and space-replacement issues in the future would cost about $14.4 million, he said.
Replacing it with a new 1,200-space deck is cost prohibitive at about $24 million, he said.
“All our options are open at this point,” O’Connell said. “We’re really trying to get a good, solid plan.”