The UNO Parking Debacle: An Open Opinion Letter to the Board of Regents and the UNO Administration

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UNO parking continues to receive criticism after years of failing to meet student needs. Graphic by Maria Nevada

Brad Ashley
UNO ALUM

On Feb. 9, I arrived on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus to workout at the wellness center. As an alumnus of UNO, I have had a pass to the building for many years. Parking on this day was absolutely terrible and there were many cars driving around looking for spaces that did not exist.

I have had many problematic parking experiences over the years at UNO, but this one was particularly disturbing. The wellness center was hosting a youth wheel chair basketball tournament. I felt a deep sense of frustration and anger after watching so many of these parents and guests try to gain access to parking spots.

UNO has a parking problem. Everyone knows that. What people may not know is that this problem has been in existence for over four decades. The level of incompetence in dealing with this issue is stunning in its magnitude. I first attended UNO in the summer of 1979. In the winter of that year, I remember parking frequently in Elmwood Park and making the half mile trek up to campus. I graduated from the College of Business Administration in 1984.

Never was I so happy to be done with the rampant and unaddressed UNO parking situation. I returned to UNO from 1994 to 1999 to obtain my Master in Business Administration. Not surprisingly, there had been no real effort or focus on this problem—and there still is not to this day.  No one in the administration seems to care, nor does the Board of Regents.  Who are these people?  Why such incompetence and failure to act on the problem?

I am not a space planning expert or engineer, but it seems the solution is fairly straight forward. UNO needs more parking structures, preferably in centralized locations. You don’t need to pay a consultant $50,000 to come to campus to deliver the same message. UNO has a college of engineering and that college is heavily associated with Peter Kiewit—one of the preeminent construction firms in North America. Why are those two entities not utilized to address and solve this issue? Again, it seems rather obvious that this can be accomplished in three steps.

First, determine the number of spaces needed, taking into account a 25-year growth plan. Second, determine the optimal locations and design for the parking structures. Third, gain access to funding and begin construction.

Those of you that have worked in the private sector know full well that this issue would have been solved shortly after having been identified. Only in the public sector can a problem rage on unaddressed for over four decades with no accountability for those responsible.

Such ineffectiveness and inadequacy on the part of university officials should be nothing short of a total embarrassment.  However, I suspect their egos, as well as their designated parking spaces, will provide an insular separation from the issue.

It is time that that the alumni, students, and visitors turn up the heat on the university administration and Board of Regents, many of whom are grossly negligent on this specific issue. Come on folks, we are closing in on five decades now. Step up to the plate and get it solved.

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