Eleven thousand, three-hundred, some-odd: that is the number of parking spaces in Jonathan “Jon” King’s new domain as manager of Parking Services.
At the same time, King – who succeeded Michael Brennan as parking chief on June 1 – is quick to point out that for many people on campus, a parking space is more than a couple of lines on the asphalt.
“For a lot of people, it is a pretty personal thing,” said King. “People take it very seriously and very personally.”
Almost everybody, he says, would love a personal parking space just outside the office door. Others have called it the “dooryard” syndrome, where loading and unloading is a snap, and the car is always poised outward for quick exits. A great parking spot incorporates status, convenience and comfort.
The reality, of course, is far more complicated. The number of faculty, staff, students, vendors, contractors and visitors far exceeds the refuge of those 11,000-plus parking spaces.
“We need to constantly be looking ahead, and making that that our customers know what to expect,” said recently. “Customer service, both internally and externally, is absolutely critical. Improved communication is going to be our biggest challenge, and the focus of some of our biggest efforts as we deal the big three: operations, service and logistics.”
Ultimately, there are big changes in the works. Most immediately, said King, Lot 62 near the Studio Arts Building and Fernald Hall is being eliminated to make way for building construction. That means finding a place for a “red lot” population consisting largely of faculty members. Over the next year or so, there are likely to be shifts in the policies governing event parking, and possibly the addition of a second-shift enforcement team; and over the longer term, a migration of parking to the perimeters of campus, leaving the campus core free of traffic, as outlined in the campus master plan—all as the campus attempts to accommodate an aging faculty and staff.
There is a standing inside joke among parking execs confronted with challenges like this, notes King: “It’s not a parking problem. It’s a transportation problem.”
“We can’t say that here, because we have a great transit system that has become a national model,” he said.
It is a claim that King can make with authority, having worked for the system and driven a bus here during his time as a student. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1989, and looks back at his time with Transit Services with fondness.
Since then, King immersed himself in the finer points of shipping and logistics for Yankee Candle and Roadway Express, and served as a district manager for Osterman Propane.