Sinclair seeks to fix parking frustrations

Parking at Sinclair Community College is a common source of frustration and dissatisfaction among students, but the school plans to reconfigure its on-campus parking to be more user friendly.

Sinclair has adopted a master plan that seeks to overhaul the campus layout to better tie its facilities and parking together.

Sinclair hopes to increase the number of the spaces on campus to provide parking that is easy to find that is also close to students’ classes, school officials said.

“Student parking is an issue, and downtown is always a challenge for people who are not used to being downtown,” said Madeline Iseli, senior vice president of advancement with Sinclair.

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Parking improvements are a key part of Sinclair’s master plan, which seeks to connect the campus with walking paths, signs, landscaping and architectural elements. The school intends to invest $80 million to $90 million in the next three years.

Most Sinclair students are part-time, which means they have time constraints and want to park near their classes and other campus destinations, said Iseli.

“We want to give students more access to better spots that reduce their time in travel,” she said.

Under the master plan, Sinclair expects to increase the available parking slots by 93 spaces to 5,163, according to the school’s parking inventory.

But the school plans to eliminate and replace some lots. Recently, the school has lost about 125 parking spaces because it is buiding its new Health Sciences Center on a former surface lot.

Sinclair also will lose about 146 parking spaces when it creates a western gateway into campus at the intersection of Fourth and Fifth streets, according to the master plan.

However, the school hopes to create about 400 new spaces by constructing an upper parking deck for a lot near Fifth and Longworth streets.

Right now, Sinclair wants to create 38 new spaces for faculty at a lot at Wilkinson Street at the edge of campus, officials said. That should free up more spaces for students near the center of campus where most classes are located.

“The school is always thinking about parking,” said Alan Scherr, president of the architectural firm Alan Scherr Associates, which helped work on the master plan. “Remember, it’s a commuter college and we have to get the students there. … If we don’t have cars, we don’t have a college.”

Next month, Sinclair expects to appear before the Dayton Plan Board to request the vacation of two alleys — Proctor Lane and Maple Street — that are off South Wilkinson and West Fourth streets.

According to Sinclair, the moves would allow the school to combine three parking lots — two existing and one under construction — into one unified space, allowing for the installation of lighting, drainage and landscaping.

The new lot is planned for the former site of the Montgomery County Democratic Party headquarters building at 131 S. Wilkinson St.

Sinclair’s foundation bought the property last year and leveled the building.

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In December, the plan board voted 4-0 to reject the vacation of the alleys, with members saying they did not see a need to abandon the passages.

But this month, the plan board approved Sinclair’s general development plan with conditions related to the proposed parking lot.

The conditions call for setbacks and perimeter landscaping along the two streets and “place-making” items such as gateway signage at the intersection, decorative landscaping and red entrance pylons at the Wilkinson Street entrance.

Design renderings of Sinclair’s renovated parking garage show a gateway addition to the parking deck that will be a three-story enclosed vestibule with elevator and open stairway, according to the master plan. There will be a new crosswalk with four tall metallic pylons at each corner that support string lights overhead.

“This will make it easier not just for parking but to find your way so that once you’ve parked, you know exactly where to go,” said Iseli.

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