The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday May 20th

Parking


Darice Johnson, a disabled veteran, is pictured with an accessible parking sign on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Disabled and low-income residents raise Chapel Hill parking accessibility concerns

Although all Chapel Hill residents know the struggle of finding parking downtown, the issue is even greater for those limited by a disability or cost.   Timothy Miles, the executive director for the Triangle Disability Awareness Council, said accessible parking spaces in downtown Chapel Hill are limited and oftentimes do not provide easy access to the surrounding buildings. The influx of construction in the area has also exacerbated the problem.  “That makes it very difficult to get in and out because it’s confusing — discouraging is a better word,” he said. Reis Phillips, a UNC senior and store associate at Underground Printing, also noted the financial barriers posed by parking fees downtown.  "We are the people who support this community and spend money here and live here — but we can't afford to pay to park here," she said. 

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Erin Day, a graduate student in UNC's chemistry department, stands in front of her car in a disabled parking lot near Caudill Labs on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. "It's such a complicated path," says Day of her struggle to obtain a disabled parking permit. "It feels like the university at large doesn't want you to get it."

Grad student's experience highlights parking accessibility challenges at UNC

Over the summer, graduate student Erin Day faced multiple obstacles while applying for a disabled parking permit at UNC.  After repeated requests in both 2018 and 2020, Day's path to accommodations on campus highlights the challenges in parking experienced by the University's disabled community. To Austin Tyner, a chairperson of the Disability Advocates for Carolina committee within the Campus Y, Day’s experience is an unfortunate example of the barriers that UNC students with disabilities face.

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Scott Reece, 45, helps his wife, Nunny Reece, 41, who has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, tie her shoes on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Nunny Reece and her husband frequent UNC Hospital often and face additional challenges due to parking costs, which typically are up to $10 a day. On this day, Reece had a parking permit due to her receiving radiation treatment all week. 

'It broke us' : Parking fees strain cancer patients while building revenue for UNC

Most long-term patients, such as those with cancer, pay the same amount for parking at UNC Hospitals as every other visitor throughout the state. Some are exasperated over the additional toll those parking fees add to their week-by-week treatment schedules.  While alternative options have been created for a few specific circumstances, many patients don’t qualify and have seen parking expenses pile up. Meanwhile, the University generated $3.7 million in revenue last year through its Dogwood Parking Deck, one of two primary parking areas for UNC Hospitals patients and visitors.

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Disgruntled with Chapel Hill parking? So are Franklin Street businesses

Since last July, eleven stores and restaurants in downtown Chapel Hill have closed their doors. Is lack of parking the culprit? Parking in downtown Chapel Hill is an issue that community members and business owners alike have felt. Shops on Franklin Street need parking for their employees, but also for patrons who cannot walk from one place to another. Some businesses even find that passersby go elsewhere where parking is more convenient, thereby driving away local business traffic.  A few newer solutions popped up, like Park on the Hill, which attempt to maximize parking availability. But dissatisfaction is still high.

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