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TPC responds to campus reaction: Committee offers plan of action

The following memo dated May 31, 2002, was sent to UNH President Joan Leitzel from Candace Corvey, vice president for finance and administration, regarding community reaction to the Transportation Policy Committee's Preliminary Report that addressed ways to deal with the university's transportation and parking issues. The memo outlines the committee's next steps. Corvey requested the memo run in a September issue of Campus Journal, after faculty, staff and students had returned.

In March of this year, the Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) issued its Preliminary Report for the purpose of inviting community input. since then, representatives of the TPC have met with the President's Staff, Staff Councils, Faculty Senate, Dean's Council and Student Senate. We have held two Open Forums and received numerous letters, e-mails and petitions. I am writing now on behalf of the TPC to summarize community reaction and to offer a plan for your review and approval. Please consider this memorandum to be an official addendum to the Preliminary Report.

University Reaction
In general, the community reaction to the Preliminary Report was positive with respect to the comprehensive identification of weaknesses in the current system, as well as the thorough and integrated nature of the recommendations. There was support for additional services, including a parking facility and greater investment in public transit, but reluctance to have the full cost borne by employees and students. There was extremely negative reaction to the proposed new parking permit pricing model, particularly to the magnitude of the price increases.

While there are plainly differences of opinion on nearly every aspect of the details of the report, I offer below a more specific summary of the primary messages we received. The order of these roughly coincides to the consistency and strength of the message from faculty, staff and students:

  • The proposed parking permit prices are too high and would require too dramatic an increase in cost to users. (A vocal minority assert that parking should be free as a condition of employment, and others think that where a specific job has extraordinary parking/transportation requirements, the university should cover those costs.) In addition, questions were raised about pricing for second and third shifts and summer session and about the possibility of scaling permit prices to salary levels.

  • The university must move forward to construct a parking facility in a location consistent with the Campus Master Plan.

  • The tiered aspect of the parking permit price proposal places lower-paid employees at a disadvantage and places employees whose offices are not on the core campus at an advantage.

  • There is a high degree of skepticism relative to reliable shuttle and bus service, as well as the newer concepts such as emergency rides. There is a willingness to pay somewhat more for a system that works better, but an expectation that the capacity to improve service be demonstrated first.

  • The current model of lot designations, as well as the perceived proliferation of individual and departmental reserved spaces, needs to be reviewed and rationalized to increase fairness and mobility/accessibility.

  • There is a high degree of frustration with the frequency of, and associated communication regarding, episodic lot closings due to special events. There is frustration that parking revenues from Whittemore Center and athletic events do not flow to Transportation Services and hence do not complement the investment of employees and students in the transportation system.

  • Parking enforcement practices must be consistent and fair.

  • Security must be enhanced at night in the remote areas.

  • Capital construction projects should include planning and funds to mitigate transportation impacts.

  • Some want more data about parking prices and practices of other organizations, while others regard comparative data from similar institutions as not applicable to UNH.

TPC Response and Plan
The TPC has carefully reviewed and discussed the above issues. We ask for your approval to proceed as detailed below:

  • By Dec. 1, 2002, the TPC will complete and make public a revised proposal with respect to parking permit pricing and tiering. We will also propose a specific implementation plan that may involve phasing. It is our intent to be responsive to community reaction consistent with the principles of Transportation Demand Management that form the basis of our Preliminary Report.

  • By Aug. 1, 2002, we will complete an initial feasibility study for a parking facility, which will include data from other organizations that have recently constructed similar facilities. Based upon that analysis, we will determine if it is appropriate to proceed with a comprehensive feasibility study, including financial analysis, site options analysis and preliminary design. If so, we expect to complete a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for these consulting services during the fall semester.
  • During FY03, we will implement as many immediate improvements as funding constraints will allow. For example, through a partnership between the institution and Student Government, we hope to increase and improve the reliability of shuttle service; expand the number of parking spaces in C Lot; operate pilot programs for emergency rides, carpooling and vanpooling; increase the number of staff dedicated to enforcement; improve bicycle infrastructure; and improve traffic mobility at the intersection of College Road and Main Street. Some of these initiatives are subject to approval by the town.

  • By Dec. 1, 2002, the TPC will complete and make public a detailed plan for lot designations, criteria and management plan for the allocation of reserved and specialized spaces of all types (service vehicles, meters, ADA...).

  • By Dec. 1, 2002, the TPC will complete and make public a policy proposal regarding special events parking, including athletic and Whittemore events.

  • By Oct. 1, 2002, the chief of UNH Police will present a plan to the TPC for enhanced security in remote lots.

  • By Aug. 1, 2002, the campus planner and director of facilities design and construction will formalize a process to integrate transportation planning into all capital construction projects.

  • In an early fall issue of the Campus Journal, the TPC will publish this memorandum and your response along with a summary of comparative data from other relevant organizations.

Conclusion
Naturally, the detailed proposals scheduled for completion during the FY02-03 academic year will be subject to review and approval by President Hart, as we all know the devil is in the details. But, the TPC is eager to receive your feedback on the Preliminary Report and the above action plan for the next phase before you retire. We have appreciated your support for our hard work in this complex and controversial area.
[NOTE: See former President Leitzel's response which follows.]




Leitzel responds to recommendations


The following letter is Joan Leitzel's response to the TPC's recommendations, which she made before retiring as UNH president.

Dear Candace:

On behalf of the university community, I want to thank you and the members of the Transportation Policy Committee for your hard work over the past year. The committee has dealt with one of the university's most difficult issues in an impressive way that has included the university community. I appreciate that you have taken the community reaction into consideration in the development of the plan outlined in your May 31, 2002, memorandum.

I believe it is important for the committee to develop more detailed proposals during the FY02-03 academic year for review and approval by President Hart. The university community must continue to struggle with the difficult issues around the continuing parking and transportation problems on campus, including the impact our decisions have on the Town of Durham. The preliminary report of your committee is an excellent beginning, and your proposed action plan provides a practical way of moving forward. I endorse both the plan and timetable as recommended and wish the committee every success as you continue your important work.

Thank you for your commitment to finding ways to improve our operations.

Sincerely,

Joan R. Leitzel
President
June 20, 2002




Carpoolers secure spaces in A-Lot

By Lori Gula

Fifty parking spaces at the front of A-lot will be permanently designated as carpool parking beginning Monday, Sept. 30.

The spaces in A-lot will be designated by a carpool symbol, which will be posted on signs and painted on each space. To park in these spaces there must be at least two passengers in the vehicle and at least two valid permits on the dash of the car. Commuter students with parking decals should call Parking Services for carpool participation details including registration.

Carpooling alleviates parking and traffic congestion, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and allows carpoolers to save on transportation costs. The Transportation Policy Committee is working to promote transportation alternatives, including bicycling, carpooling, vanpooling and expanded shuttle and transit services

The carpool lot designation is just one of several programs Transportation Services plans to implement this fall. Other new services include a subscriber vanpooling program, guaranteed ride home for transit, carpool and vanpool users, and the Cat Courier service in Durham.

These programs will be outlined on the Web and in the new UNH Campus Transportation Guide, which will be released in early October. The Transportation Services Web site, www.unh.edu/parking, will post a link to the New Hampshire Rideshare database to assist faculty, staff and students in matching rides with other commuters.

In addition, UNH is moving forward with plans to reconstruct and enhance the Main Street corridor through campus, expand the rail station, expand campus shuttle service and support the regional compressed natural gas refueling station. UNH and Durham will receive more than $1.8 million in federal funds to support the projects.

"The university is working cooperatively with the region and the state of New Hampshire to improve the transportation system and reduce air quality and congestion impacts," says Stephen Pesci, special projects manager with UNH Parking and Transportation.

For more information about these new transportation programs and other alternatives to driving alone, join the Office of Sustainability Programs and Transportation Services for Alternative Transportation Day Thursday, Sept. 26, from 7:30-10:30 a.m. in the Murkland Courtyard. To learn more about the Office of Sustainability Programs' Climate Education Initiative visit: www.sustainableunh.unh.edu.




Bike programs provide transportation alternative

By Lori Gula

If you see a flash of a person pedaling by on a blue bike away from Nesmith Hall, you've probably spotted one of the many folks from the College of Liberal Arts who are taking advantage of a new campus bicycle program.

As part of its Climate Education Initiative, the Office of Sustainability Programs is promoting two new campus bicycle programs: the Blue Bike Program and Cat Cycle.

The Blue Bike Program allows departments to purchase bikes specifically for use by their faculty and staff on campus to run errands, make deliveries and get to meetings. Cat Cycle, a commuter bike program, allows any member of the university community to arrive by bus or park their car for the day and then sign out a bike at the Visitor Service Center at the entrance of A-lot. The user will have sole use of the bicycle for one week.

All bikes are durable, single-speed "cruisers" equipped with fenders and a cargo basket. They brake by reversing pedaling. Blue bikes cost $370, which includes a lock.

"The incentive is to begin to think out of the box when it comes to thinking about what transportation means. There seems to be a mindset that transportation equals parking. There are alternative forms of transportation to take into consideration, such as taking a bus and then having access to a bicycle," said Julie Newman, education director with the Office of Sustainability Programs.

Seven departments are participating in the Blue Bike Program, including CIS, EOS, Liberal Arts, Housing and Natural Resources. Liberal Arts purchased two blue bikes -- one for men and one for women -- two weeks ago in part because of its move to Nesmith Hall from Murkland Hall, which is undergoing extensive renovations.

"We consider ourselves to be pioneers," quipped Marilyn Hoskin, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. "Having the bikes help, especially when you find you are running really late."

Though the bikes are designed to not go fast, they are easy to pedal, stable and have a basket that can hold a lot of stuff, said Hoskin, who has been spotted pedaling around campus wearing skirts. "As long as you are not terribly modest, no one seems to care because you are whizzing by them at top speed."

Karen Dodge, senior administrative assistant in Liberal Arts Dean's Office, uses the bike to run errands. "We have deliveries to all of our departments and now that we are way up here, it's more convenient," Dodge said.

The move to Nesmith has added only about three minutes to her walk to downtown, but Dodge said she feels like she is much farther away. "If you have only a half an hour, it's great. I had to go to the eye doctor last week, and I made it there and back in plenty of time on my break," she said.

The seat is comfortable, but if you haven't ridden a bike in awhile, you may be a bit sore. "I had to remember how it feels after you ride a bike," Dodge said.

Some man yelled to me, "I like your basic bike."

In October, 20 Cat Cycles will be available to commuters who park in A-Lot. The program is part of the campus focus on Transportation Demand Management, a systematic effort to increase transportation options and access. Among the benefits of the program are a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion and pollution.

Cat Cycle has its roots in the Yellow Bike Cooperative Program, which started three years ago and is sustainability's original bike program. Initially, the cooperative raised awareness about bicycle transportation on campus, but because of logistical concerns, sustainability is phasing it out.

The cooperative was designed to operate as a member-supported program, in part because of the maintenance required on recycled bikes used in the program. Initially, member response to community repair efforts was quite good, but later attempts to generate member enthusiasm have resulted in small turn-outs.

As a result, sustainability shifted to a commuter pilot program last year. Nine single-speed bicycles of same make and model have been in service since late spring, and participation has increased over the summer, to the point that demand was greater than availability for most of the summer.

Sustainability has found the bicycles to be durable, and because of their simplicity, have far fewer parts to potentially fail. When the bikes eventually need service, sustainability believes the uniformity of the bikes will greatly streamline the process.

The implementation of Cat Cycles moves the commuter pilot program to a permanent program administered by Transportation Services. Cat Cycle users will be able to sign out a bike at the Visitor Information Center.

"In a program like this, you are going to have a spectrum of commuters. The best that UNH can do is offer a spectrum of services and see which one best fits into their routine," Newman said.




$5.6M grant funds biomedical research

By Virginia Stuart, CEPS

UNH has received $5.6 million to stimulate biomedical research across the state. The New Hampshire Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (NH-BRIN) established with the three-year grant is part of a national program to improve health-related research in states that have lacked the resources to compete effectively for federal dollars.

A dedication was held today for NH-BRIN at the university's Center for Structural Biology, home to $1.5 million worth of instrumentation that has been procured with the grant. UNH is first in the world to acquire two of these instruments, including a robotic "picker and spotter" that can process nearly 400 protein samples in one session.

Funding for NH-BRIN comes from the National Centers for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health.

"This is a grant that will have direct reverberations throughout the state," said Vernon Reinhold, a UNH chemist and biochemist who directs NH-BRIN. "Its goal is to bring improved science understanding and capabilities to students and faculty members across the state -- and ultimately to bring the best and brightest to UNH. This clearly should make our scientists more successful in acquiring national funding, and what better way to start than by supporting our undergraduate schools and providing established investigators with state-of-the-art instrumentation."

The funding has allowed the university to hire three new researchers, set up a network of collaborating researchers and students at eight institutions across the state, and purchase more than $1.5 million in instruments.

Drawing on the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology, NH-BRIN is fostering research on products of gene expression, its proteins, and how these fundamental components of life lead to cellular function. This understanding can have profound implications for human health and disease.

"The genome has been sequenced," Reinhold said. "But that barrier to understanding cellular function was trivial compared to the problems that lie ahead. To produce effective therapies and medicines, protect against infectious diseases, and build the healthy society we all want and can afford, we must proceed to the last links between physiological function and molecular structure. We have entered into an era referred to as systems biology."

Reinhold's own research on molecular glycosylation in cell biology is a perfect example. He is collaborating with researchers worldwide on projects relating to heart disease, gonorrhea, and the immunity-conferring properties of human milk, among others.

NH-BRIN is already supporting research projects at Dartmouth, Keene State College, and Plymouth State College, and is also working with New Hampshire Community Technical Colleges in Portsmouth and Concord, St. Anselm's College, and UNH-Manchester. Researchers and students at these schools can bring biological samples to UNH for analysis and tap into international databases to aid in structural identification.

Thanks to its high speed, robotic equipment, UNH will ultimately have the capability of processing 200,000 samples of protein in a week.

UNH President Ann Weaver Hart said the grant provides a strong foundation in an area of research critically needed by New Hampshire. "This funding not only stimulates the research of existing faculty but also should make the university more competitive in attracting the best faculty and students in biomedical fields so vital to all areas of health-related research."

Reinhold already can see the effects of the grant on UNH's ability to compete. Competing with schools such as Johns Hopkins and Harvard, he is heading a group of UNH researchers who are applying for a $10 million National Institutes of Health grant. Even for Reinhold, a prominent researcher in the field who came to UNH from Harvard, "this prospect would have been unthinkable without the talented researchers and equipment that BRIN has already brought to UNH."

NH-BRIN is a multidisciplinary effort based in both the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the university.




Welcome to the University

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  • Anthony Berry, admissions officer I, 7/29
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  • Patricia Barbarits, administrative assistant II, animal and nutritional sciences, 8/5
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