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posted: 5/20/2011 1:00 AM

Waubonsee students get parking

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A parking agreement between the city of Aurora and Waubonsee Community College could pave the way to free parking for students at the college's new downtown campus, set to open June 1.

The spaces would come at a cost of $400,000 to the college for the agreement's four-year duration. And they would fall in a lot the city is building at the former site of the YWCA on River Street as a temporary solution to downtown parking needs, Bill Wiet, Aurora's development director, said.

Aurora city council is likely to approve the parking agreement at its meeting Tuesday, May 24. Waubonsee's board approved it in principle in April and is satisfied with the few wording changes made since then, said college spokesman Jeff Noblitt.

At least one Aurora alderman said the parking agreement should have been in place before the city paid to construct the lot. But a $319,675 paving contract was approved 11-1 April 13, with Alderman Rick Lawrence voting "no."

Noblitt said the college's $400,000 payment to the city will cover the $319,675 cost to pave the lot and maintain it.

If the agreement is approved, Waubonsee students will gain access to 360 free spots in the River Street lot, which is expected to be completed by June 1, Carie Anne Ergo, Aurora's chief management officer, said.

"If students are not finding spots, we'll step in to ensure 360 are available," Wiet said.

Under the proposed agreement, students will no longer be permitted to use the Stolp Avenue parking deck, but 105 faculty and staff will receive free parking passes to a parking deck near Hollywood Casino.

This agreement would trump other parking agreements between the college and the city, including a 2008 pact made as construction of the college's downtown campus was beginning, Wiet said.

If the city and the college agree, the parking agreement can be extended one more year at a $100,000 cost to the college, despite the lot's classification as temporary.

Approval of the parking agreement would signal the city and the college agree to cooperate on a longer-term parking fix for downtown Aurora will study student parking patterns to find the best solution, Noblitt said.