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Speaking Out

40th Street Parking Garage

I am writing on behalf of the faculty and staff who park in lot 40, the new, state-of-the-art parking garage at 40th and Walnut, located above the Fresh Grocer. This facility was opened last year, and except for the usual minor difficulties (faulty card readers, temperamental elevator service, torturous driving paths, lack of pedestrian walkways), the facility has worked reasonably well. The plan for this 10-story garage was to have public parking on levels 3-6 and permit parking on levels 7-10. A magnetic card and gate system insures that no public parking could take place in the upper levels, reserved for Penn students and employees. While the nearly $1,400 annual fee seemed large, the availability of indoor, secure parking appeared worthwhile.

Until recently, the paucity of individuals taking advantage of public parking encouraged Penn permit holders to park on the lower floors, a particular advantage when the elevators are out of order. Recently, however, we were admonished for not parking in our designated "nesting" area, and threatened with fines if we abuse the rules. Dutifully, most of the permit holders attempted to switch to the new system. Thus, the vast majority of cars attempt to park on indoor levels 8 and 9, but often end up on the open roof. Many spaces appear to be held by non-commuting vehicles as a storage facility. The drive to the top (2.5 minutes, 0.3 miles) is bearable; however, if one does not find a space on floors 8 or 9, it is necessary to exit the nesting area, re-enter the system, drive to the roof for a total trip of 4.5 minutes, 0.8 miles. Along the way, even at 6 a.m., one passes empty floors on 3-6, and mostly parked vehicles on floors 8 and 9.

Perhaps there is a rational explanation for this egregious situation, but it would appear that once again entrepreneurial/business components of Penn, Inc take precedent over the academic mission of our enterprise. It is not acceptable that Penn faculty and staff are required to search out spaces and ultimately park on the roof, while grocery shoppers, and soon presumably moviegoers, park for free in more desirable locations. There are ways to alleviate some of these problems, but there needs to be mature discussion, rather than edicts.

--Daniel Malamud, Professor of Biochemistry/Dental


More on Facilities' Postcards

In the September 17 Almanac, Barry Hilts responded to Rosemary Connors' complaint about the series of postcards we all have been receiving from Facilities Services. Perhaps the last postcard should have said "do as we say not do as we do" rather than "a penny saved is a penny earned." We know the University saved no pennies with these mailings. We also know the point could have been made with only one postcard. Thank goodness we did not pay anyone to come up with this idea! Or is that more pennies thrown away?

--Joe Parsio, Assistant Head of Stacks, Biddle Law Library

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 6, October 1, 2002