By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – University of Mississippi officials are adding shuttles to accommodate football fans unable to park on campus this fall.
Some 6,000 parking spaces on campus will be limited to campus residents and UM Athletics Foundation donors, and enforcement will be stepped up against random parking.
Isaac Astill, director of parking and transportation, said as many as 1,500 vehicles have been illegally parked on campus on game days.
“The university has been under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues,” he said. “One of the things we need to resolve is making sure (people with disabilities) have a clear, safe pathway, which means the sidewalks have to be open. That’s the biggest component in this change. Secondarily is to provide a benefit to donors.”
This year, in addition to the existing shuttle pickups at Oxford Activity Center and Oxford Middle School, shuttles will run from Oxford Conference Center and Della Davidson Elementary School. The former Whirlpool plant off Old Taylor Road also will be opened for parking, but it is not determined yet whether shuttles will serve that lot.
“What we’re planning is that the Gertrude Ford parking lot will be the designated mass transit hub. We’ll be directing traffic to make sure the shuttles can get in and out quickly,” Astill said. “When the committee looked at this, we looked at what other schools in the state and in the SEC are doing, and we’re trying to adopt their successes.”
Oxford Police Chief Joey East said extra enforcement on campus will create new parking pressures in the city near campus.
“That’s going to push 800 to 1,500 more people on us,” he said. “We’re going to do all we can to direct people to the Conference Center and Whirlpool. It’s all going to be about working to get the word out to the public.”
Georgia Griffin of Oxford said she quit going to football games because of ticket prices and now will likely give up tailgating as well.
“We already pay $100 a season to have our tent put up, so now I’ll have to pay extra $20 to come on campus, drop off food, then go off campus, park and pay $5 to shuttle back in,” she said.