Grass will replace asphalt at USD

At first glance, the removal of the parking lot located in between I.D. Weeks Library and Beacom Hall may seem like the start of big problems for faculty and students at USD who regularly drive to campus.

But because of the construction of Coyote Village, USD will see an increase in parking.

Early last month, USD started to remodel the main parking lot, which meant it would be whittled down from 330 spaces to 130, in favor of making the university a greener campus. The asphalt of the lot will be replaced with sod, grass and sidewalks and be transformed into a campus green designed with pedestrians, not cars, in mind.

The work is slated to be done by the time the fall semester starts.

"It's an effort to provide more green space for activities, and to make the campus more of a walking campus," said Cathy Wagner, USD's director of planning and construction. "But this campus, even with the changes, will still be fortunate with the parking situation."

Students and faculty will still be able to park in the main lot, with the south end by Churchill-Haines devoted to them. The part of the lot on the north end by the law school will be for visitors. Students and faculty won't have to go far for the new parking on campus.

Coyote Village will have two large lots with 682 new parking spaces, with half of them devoted to the new dorms residents, and the other half will be for regular parking just like what the main parking lot was used for. Parking at Coyote Village may seem like an inconvenience since it's farther from campus than the former main lot, but it's only 700 feet away from the Muenster University Center, and factoring in the 200 spaces lost from the main lot, it will create 62 new spots.

Wagner said the biggest problem so far is getting people to rethink where they park.
"People are somewhat resistant to change, but you do adjust and the pain goes away," she said. "It's still within walking distance." One idea that surfaced during a survey of students was to have a shuttle from Coyote Village to the MUC in the winter. However, Wagner said most students said they would walk the distance instead of taking a shuttle.

Because of the influx people walking across Cherry Street, the city of Vermillion turned to the South Dakota Department of Transportation to see if a crosswalk or stop light was needed at the Rose Street/Cherry Street intersection.

Vermillion City Manager John Prescott said the city just got the survey back from the DOT, and it calls for a stop light at the intersection. "There will be a temporary stop light that will be put up in order to control the traffic," he said. Prescott added he hasn't been told by the DOT yet about how long the temporary lights will be in use before permanent ones will be put in place. Prescott also didn't have the information yet whether the temporary lights would have pedestrian lights as well.

Coyote Village isn't the only new parking lot which will be opening this upcoming school year. About 140 new spaces will be available to students and faculty when the Wellness Center opens, which is planned for January of 2011. Also, other lots could be used better with the main lot becoming a green area.

"The parking by Delzell (Education Center) is just as close as the main lot, but not as utilized," Wagner said. "We always promoted the DakotaDome as a great lot, but distance was always a thing. Now with Coyote Village right there, it's not as far away from everything."

Next summer, more parking spots could be created with the demolition of Redwood/Cyprus Courts. The two dorms will be off-line starting this year and will be used for storage and swing space for professors before being torn down after the school year.

"We are looking at where we need to increase parking around the perimeter of campus," Wagner said. "The medical building (Sanford School of Medicine) might get more parking, and there is potential in the different corners of campus with expansion to other lots."

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