MacKenzie Levels with Parkers

Carl Brooks

Following the widespread attention garnered by the revelation that UMass Boston had misused a small portion of the money earmarked for the repair of UMB’s crumbling parking garage, Vice Chancellor David Mackenzie released a four-page memo outlining the university’s plans for remedying the parking situation at UMB.

Taking a businesslike and a conciliatory tone, MacKenzie apologized for the misplaced funds and made it clear that the administration is well aware of the grumbles of discontent from the UMass community, saying, “We know that the parking garage is in terrible shape, that the campus regularly runs out of parking spaces, and that it costs five dollars a day to park here.”

He notes that by contrast, the free shuttle service, which costs UMB $400,000 a year, “received the highest score” on the Senior Survey. The shuttle is also paid for out of the parking fees.

MacKenzie went into detail about the way in which the Parking and Transportation Trust Fund operates and the misuse of funds. He points out in his September 22 memo that, “These funds were not misappropriated to someone’s personal use; nor were they spent on extravagant items.” instead, the $200,000 that went missing went to paying lighting bills and “legitimate administrative expenses.”

Mackenzie blames the low parking fees for the condition of the garage, saying that a lack of maintenance was caused by the very low fee ($3.50 per day until last year) and the fact that the PTTF paid for the bus service as well as salaries for parking employees.

The university plans are simple these days. After much agonizing over what to do about the dismal dungeon, and efforts to repair the garage that uncovered more damage than was previously thought, the university has opted for a brand new facility, to be erected behind the swanky new Campus Center. This hurry-up approach was brought on by the collapse of part of the garage in 2002, although there was no danger, because, MacKenzie notes, “thanks to our Facilities Dept., which had previously installed netting under that and other suspect areas… no one was hurt and no cars were damaged.”

When the new garage is built, it will be paid for from a state bond authorization (authorization to sell bonds to raise money for UMass), the already partly closed off garage will be completely emptied and rebuilt. That’s going to come to a cool $65 million dollars. The UMass Building Authority already has financing underway, but eventually the money for the new parking garage will come out of parking fees, which are slated to rise again.

Mackenzie sounds like he’s in for the long haul, “As we persevere with our efforts to address this longstanding problem and to plan for a new facility, your continued patience and support will be most critical.”