Neighbors swap parking permits with college students

As Manhattan College grows, so does need for student, faculty parking



At least 50 residents in the Manhattan College vicinity will have to resort to finding another place to park come Aug. 1 because spaces in the Broadway garage are going to students and faculty.

As part of an agreement made years ago, Manhattan College has supplied free parking to area residents. The garage has more than 600 spaces for eligible students, faculty, and residents who have valid parking permits.

But that will all change for residents, according to a recent college chain email.

“Manhattan College regrets to report that due to the increased parking needs of our campus, we can no longer support parking for non-students nor non-employees, and therefore the community parking program is being discontinued,” the Department of Public Safety wrote to 50 members on an email chain in early March.

In response to the email, residents who have those parking permits were not only shocked — they were furious. The group went as far as suggesting to contact Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and his son, the city councilman Eric Dinowitz for help.

The chain email was full of angry and dissatisfied people without a clearer understanding of the college’s reasoning.

One resident claimed that their children could not participate in sport activities during the summer because once the car pulled out of a legal spot, a lucky person swapped places a second later.

Coming back home is a disaster for her — which can be no later than 5 p.m.

Picking up and dropping off children or carpooling didn’t seem like an option, she said.

The college listened to the residents, giving them an extra month of free parking in the Broadway garage. The original date was July 1.

The college understood that this would be a temporary condition that they carried for several years Pete McHugh, director of media relations and strategic communications told The Riverdale Press.

“Students, faculty, and staff who have commuted by car since the pandemic began, we have seen an increase in the number of on-campus parking spaces used by these groups,” McHugh said.

The residential parking program began was originally temporary in 2011 when the Kelly Commons building on Waldo Avenue was being built. At the time  the construction area took up 20 parking spots.

Back then the college cooperated with the residents by trying to align a good code of faith with their neighbors. Officials agreed to a community board meeting a year later in 2012.

Following the meeting, community residents were granted free public parking in the Broadway garage for people living in the 10471 and 10463 zip codes during construction at the time.

Recently, the school was informed by students and faculty that the lack of sufficient parking caused many to show up late to class

“It’s just a huge benefit to the community — like to work something out, it’s nice for them to continue helping the community somewhat,” said Sophie Shao, a resident who has been using the garage for the past six years.

Shao has a convenient three-minute walk to arrive home. She lives up the hill from the Broadway garage. She claims it would take her 30 to 45 minutes to find a parking spot if the college does not find a solution.

Shao said that she hopes there is some negotiating room because the thought of parking on the streets and other drivers besides her are looking for parking — it becomes a race.

Shao said that it’s a good thing that many students attend the college because it gives a different atmosphere to the community, but it makes the area very busy than before the pandemic.

Shao lives in a 90-year-old building that does not include an underground garage. Next to Shao’s apartment, another apartment building is in under construction. If it doesn’t include a garage, it would be even more complicated for her to find parking.

Manhattan College supplies students with parking in four areas around campus that are shared with faculty, while one is strictly for students with valid permits.

In the past, the Broadway garage “had like a basement area, like a ground floor area where you actually were assigned a spot,” Shao said.

The college moved permit-holders to the fourth and fifth levels without assigning specific spots for the past year.

The college’s official parking website states “the college reserves the right to limit or terminate parking privileges at any time.”

“We will continue to find ways to maintain a positive relationship with our neighbors as we seek to the meet the needs of our students and faculty,” McHugh said.

“I’ve been looking around for paid options. I think that’s what my neighbor was suggesting,” Shao said, “We can, you know, it becomes not just the free community parking, just because there’s so much parking.”

Drivers have the option of free street parking or transition to a variety of other garages in other areas — for a price.

On Irwin Avenue there is a garage that consists of 150 parking spots that collect cash as you exit.

Around the block is another garage that offers the same payment process near Ewen Park.

Manhattan College, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Eric Dinowitz, Broadway garage, parking, Sophie Shao, Pete McHugh,