Howard Community College held a grand opening Monday for its second parking garage, a $14.2 million project college officials say is much needed, especially as the number of students at the school continues to rise.
The garage adds 723 more parking spots. The school still needs more.
Under state guidelines—which are based on the number of students, employees, visitors and the required amount of handicapped spaces—Howard Community College should have 3,460 parking spaces, according to college spokeswoman Nancy Santos Gainer.
Prior to this parking garage being built, the college had about half that—1,797—not including its temporary parking spaces, which the state does not count. That was 1,663 fewer parking spaces than what the state says the college needs.
Even including the temporary lots—539 spaces on the former Columbia Grand Prix field, 65 spaces on another part of campus where there were once tennis courts—the college had 2,401 spaces, which was 1,059 fewer than what the college should have.
This new parking garage leaves the college with a deficit of 336 spaces, or 940 spaces if temporary lots are not included, according to figures.
The college's first garage holds 518 parking spaces. This second one was built for an estimated $14,213,000, with $7 million coming from the Howard County government and the remaining $7,213,000 coming from the college fund balance, which is made up of student fees paid based on the number of credits they are carrying.
“Each year an overwhelming number of students indicate on annual surveys that their need to have cars on campus is based on the practical reality of having to report to work on time and/or pick up children from daycare,” Kate Hetherington, president of Howard Community College, said in a statement.
“At a time when we continue to experience increased enrollment, this parking garage will make room for current and future students,” she said.
College officials point to the rapid growth in student enrollment as a major reason more parking is needed.
The number of students enrolled at Howard Community College in fall 2008 was 7,905. That number jumped in fall 2009 to 8,778, an increase of 873 students, or 11 percent.
In fall 2010, the number of students rose again, this time to 9,569. That is an increase of 791 over last year, or 9 percent. That is 1,664 students more, or 21 percent, than two years before.