by Joe Cook
A quick tour around campus reveals a new addition to the school, as well as many improvements to the parking situation on campus.
Finished in May, the new parking garage holds 433 cars on six levels. The garage is tailor made for St. Thomas students, as its spaces can accommodate almost all the different types of cars and trucks that students drive. Sophomores and juniors are now able to park on campus and do not have to park at the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice or in surrounding neighborhoods.
So far, few problems have been encountered, and most students who park in the garage believe that it is a great improvement over last year.
“I usually park on the second or third level, and parking has been really easy,” junior Josh Podlin said. “I’ve had no problem parking in the morning and leaving in the afternoon.”
Junior Alex Kemple agrees with Podlin, saying that it has not been difficult at all, and that even his car, with its modifications, fits under the seven foot clearance with room to spare.
Students must choose to either take the stairs or the elevator, as the first level is reserved for parents waiting to pick up their kids after school.
“The elevator takes way too long, and it is way too hot inside it,” Kemple said. “I took the elevator once and after that I’ve only used the stairs.”
The building, which is the tallest on campus, presents some of the best views of St. Thomas and downtown Houston. The roof is accessible by taking the elevator to the sixth floor and stepping out of the large glass foyer. The northwest side of the garage is adorned with a large sign with the school crest and the words “St. Thomas Parking” in white letters on a red background.
The garage, which has yet to be named, was completed one month behind schedule. Principal Rev. Patrick Fulton, C.S.B. said that the reason it was late in being completed was because of an issue regarding handrails.
“The company that made the handrails went out of business,” Fulton said. He said that it was the fault of the contractors and not that of the school.
Other improvements on campus include changing what parking along Reckling Gymnasium to parallel parking, providing enough room for two lanes of traffic, which allow cars to travel both ways. The only area where changes have not been made to the traffic flow is faculty parking in front of the Moran Fine Arts building. All spots that were previously along the fence are no longer parking spaces. There are now signs along the fence that say “No Parking or Stopping” and “Towing Enforced.”
The garage’s first use for parking was for commencement ceremonies. The garage is part of the $22 million capital campaign, The St. Thomas Experience…Building on Excellence. Currently, $11 million has been raised. The campaign has plans for a new athletics center, major renovations to existing science classrooms in the Webre building and a new maintenance building.