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UNC employees face parking issues, may have to pay for night parking in the future

Carolina Dining Services employee, Melanie McMullin, parks at University Place in order to avoid paying to park on or near campus for her  job.

Carolina Dining Services employee, Melanie McMullin, parks at University Place in order to avoid paying to park on or near campus for her job.

Some employees, like Carolina Dining Services employee Melanie McMullin, can’t afford to park at the University and must find free parking somewhere else.

McMullin said she leaves her Durham home at 9 a.m. and parks at University Place in order to catch a bus to work by 10 a.m. McMullin said she is not the only employee who does this every day. In November, University Place personnel left notes on CDS employees’ cars telling them they would get towed starting Nov. 30 if they continued to park there.

“It’s just kinda aggravating because when you go to work, you’ve got to worry about if your car is going to be there when you get back,” she said.

In 2014, the University proposed the Night Parking Program, which would require night employees to purchase a permit to park. Currently, parking is free after 5 p.m.

While this was delayed, Employee Forum chairperson Charles Streeter said night parking is being discussed again for the next five-year parking plan.

Streeter said when you look at the amount of money that goes into servicing parking decks and other parking areas, it is the daytime permit holders who burden these costs.

“Ultimately for the Employee Forum, a majority of the delegates looked at it and said we understand and we have to go for what’s fair and equitable,” Streeter said.

Housekeeping crew leader James Holman said there are some University employees who do not earn a living wage and would suffer if they have to pay for nighttime parking.

“As it stands now, the second and third shift workers have to compete with students and the community to find places to park,” he said in an email. “If the nighttime parking is going to move forward then the University needs to respect the employees that take care of faculty, staff and students.”

McMullin said CDS employees have the opportunity to pay to park at the Friday Center, 2.5 miles off campus. Employees have to take a bus from the Friday Center to get to campus. McMullin continues to park at University Mall.

“Who wants to pay to park at the Friday Center when you’re not getting as much money?” she said.

Scott Weir, CDS general manager, said CDS employees are given the same parking options that are available for all University staff.

“We do allow them to use payroll deduction to pay for University Parking permits over an extended period of time via deduction from their weekly paycheck,” he said.

UNC Transportation and Parking have made steps to make parking and commuting options at the University affordable by creating a sliding scale based on employee salary and type/location of the parking space, said UNC spokesperson Randy Young.

“UNC also partners with local communities to (create) affordable alternatives to parking on campus, such as fare-free bus service through Chapel Hill transit,” Young said.

Streeter said the Employee Forum does not represent CDS employees because they work for another corporation and are not state-paid employees. However, Streeter said if someone were to bring an issue to his attention, he would still take it to the employee’s facility manager.

Holman and McMullin have their own suggestions for parking at the University, even if they may not be feasible right now.

Holman said there aren’t designated parking spaces for second and third shift employees — they have to compete with students since all parking is free after 5 p.m.

“There should be assigned areas where each employee will be allowed to park at night close to the area where they work,” Holman said. “If not, this could become a safety issue.”

McMullin said while it is probably not possible for the University to create free designated parking for employees, it would be nice to see some changes.

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“I think it’s unfair to have to pay to park where you work.”