My letter to the editors of the Oberlin Review. Reprinted here with pictures and hyperlinks!
As a Texan, I am able to bring a Lone Star State perspective to the parking shortage currently experienced by the college and the town. The solution to this crisis seems so obvious that Lily Schatz should be embarrassed for not raising it in her article: we must pave over Tappan Square.
When constructed, Parking in Oberlin at Tappan (POT) will provide ample parking for all of the surrounding academic buildings and dorms. Oberlin residents and visitors will all enjoy convenient, centralized parking for the Conservatory, Finney Chapel, the Allen Art Museum, as well as for downtown merchants and restaurants.
"Simply paving over Tappan Square . . . is not enough"
Simply paving over Tappan Square and painting lines, however, is not enough. I hope that the committee will have the foresight to recognize the academic and economic growth that centralized parking will bring to Oberlin. The only way to prepare for this growth is to invest in a multi-level parking facility. This facility would also provide space for scenarios that the campus parking policy does not address (i.e., students that have multiple vehicles on campus). I propose twelve levels, each of which could be named after a president of the College.
For those worried that a parking structure would inhibit pedestrian traffic, the multi-level facility is the perfect solution. In this plan, parking spaces would begin on the second level of the facility (Finney) leaving the street-level (Mahan) as a climate-controlled pedestrian thoroughfare with options for retail expansion or classroom space.
Current structures should be incorporated into the design of the multi-level parking facility to preserve the area's integrity. The Memorial Arch, when widened, could serve as a vehicle entryway. The Clark Bandstand and flagpole could be relocated to the highest level of the facility (Dye). The three painted rocks that have littered the square for years are eyesores and should be crushed, recycled and reused as paving material, thus carrying on Oberlin's longstanding tradition of environmental consciousness.
As recently as 1885, a dormitory existed on Tappan Square. More than a century later, a new structure is needed to reflect the changing interests of a diverse population. Students' interests have shifted from sleeping to parking. In short, students need POT.
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