COCC, OSU-Cascades return -- so do parking woes

Two new buildings on campus, and squeeze is on

BEND, Ore. - Monday was the first day of classes for college students in Central Oregon.

Central Oregon Community College and the OSU-Cascades campuses were packed, and as every year, the colleges have the same problem: parking.

COCC officials say enrollment this year appears to be about the same as last year: around 7,000 students.

The students NewsChannel 21 talked with Monday all shared the same sentiment though: parking was bad.

"This is going to be the worst day, because it's the first day and everybody showing up," said Public Safety Officer Kristina Blake.

During the school year, the majority of classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays, making parking a bigger hassle.

"Parking has always been an issue," Blake said. "It's always been hard to park here."

And nobody knows the parking issue better than public safety officers who hand out multiple tickets, especially Blake.

"I went to school here years ago, and parking was bad then" Blake said. "We have increased our student numbers but we haven't necessarily increased our parking spaces-we've tried but its bad."

It costs about $8,000 to create one parking space, and officials say they would like to keep costs low for students.

This year, the school opened up two large new buildings: the Health Careers Center and the Science Center.

The school has also added another 100 parking spaces.

"With fewer students, and a few more parking spots, we hope it will be a little bit better," said COCC spokesman Ron Paradis. "First days are always a little bit hectic in the parking lots."

First-year student Monte Lemire said he didn't have any trouble getting to his classes on the first day.

"I got lucky," Lemire said. "But as I was walking up to class, I saw a lot of vehicles that were head of me, trying to park."

Lemire is striving to get a degree in radiology and nuclear medicine. He expects the first couple of weeks to be difficult to find a parking spot.

Worrying about parking wasn't the only thing causing first-day jitters.

"Yeah, I'm a little nervous this is my first day of college," Breanna Ganey said. "Actually, I have class with my mom so it makes it a little better I guess."

Ganey, her mom and Lemire are excited to start classes, parking will still be on their minds.

"I started my shift at a 11 o'clock, and I had a hard time finding some place to park," Blake said. "I'm way out in the boondocks. I had to walk a long way to work."

There should be plenty of parking, officials say, over by the library and behind Cascades Hall.

Officials do have some tips for students wanting to park on campus: Come early and, if possible, ride the bus.

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