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Thursday February 11th, 2016 12:10PM

UNG students start petition over parking deck problems

By B.J. Williams News Director
OAKWOOD - Two weeks ago, the University of North Georgia had to close the student parking deck on the Gainesville campus when school officials found the deck needed some concrete repairs.

Since then, UNG has been providing free shuttle service to campus from two alternative parking sites off campus, but not all students are happy with that arrangement. In fact, one student has started a petition, hoping administrators will understand how unhappy students are with the lack of on-campus parking.

Grayson, a freshman from Oakwood who asked that his last name not be used, started the online petition August 31, a little more than a week after the deck was closed.

He said initially students were allowed to park in a grassy area next to the deck, but UNG put a stop to that.

"It was a field right next to the parking deck where there was plenty of room for everybody to park and still be close to all their classes," said Grayson.

But he said that was short-lived, and campus security placed cones and a fence around the grassy area to keep students away. Students who did try to park on campus were ticketed, according to Grayson.

"That seems kind of crazy to me when we're paying transportation fees...for the parking deck."

The university set up parking for students at two off-site lots, one at the
the former Sam's Club parking lot on Frontage Road and the other at the Park and Ride lot off Atlanta Highway. The university provides free shuttle service 7:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Grayson said he is using the shuttles, and he said UNG is doing a good job with shuttle service, but he has concerns about parking so far away from campus.

"I have some stuff in my car...and I just don't feel it's safe over there," he said.

And then, there are other vehicles that share the Park and Ride lot.

"There's tractor trailers that like to park there," said Grayson. "Cars are blocking the trucks and the trucks are trying to get out and they're [truck drivers] yelling at all the students to move their cars. It's really making a bigger problem than it's worth."

Grayson is hoping that his online petition, that he devised with the help of a fellow classmate, will perhaps prompt the administration to refund student parking fees while the deck is closed.

He said he's willing to talk to administrators about his concerns, but as a freshman, he said he is concerned about how his actions might be perceived and doesn't want to be seen as a troublemaker. Therefore, he's keeping his full identity under wraps for now.

UNG sent an e-mail update to students on Thursday, but there was no timetable for re-opening the deck.

"The student parking deck is still undergoing evaluation to determine the scope of repairs required. Out of an abundance of caution for our students' safety, it will be closed until the necessary repairs can be completed," read the opening line of the email.

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