Virginia Key campus parking altered due to construction

A worker walks through the empty parking lot at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key. Students and professors have to park at The Seaquarium when parking spaces are not available at RSMAS. Monica Herndon//Staff Photographer

When junior Joyce Yager drives to class at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key, she can’t park on campus.

“You have to park at the Seaquarium now,” Yager said. “As long as it’s not too busy, it’s not too bad.”

Due to the construction of the new Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex, there are approximately 100 fewer parking spots on the RSMAS campus, according to Will Drennan, an associate dean of undergraduate education for RSMAS. Students like Yager are opting to park at the Miami Seaquarium next door.

The 85,000-square-foot building will include features such as a wind-and-wave tunnel capable of producing category four winds. The complex will also have environmentally-friendly facilities, labs and meeting rooms. Construction of the complex is on schedule, said Gary Hitchcock, a second associate dean of undergraduate education for RSMAS. Completion is scheduled for summer 2013.

Until then, students must park at the Seaquarium, a five-minute walk to RSMAS facilities. Drennan sad that the Seaquarium has, in the past, sent guests to park at RSMAS during its busy season around Christmas time. Now in its off-season, the Seaquarium was willing to return the favor. Because this is the first year the Seaquarium does this, park officials are not sure how this will affect the busy season in October through December.

“Everybody knew this was going to happen,” Hitchcock said. “It’s been a goal for months.”

Though there are still several other parking areas on RSMAS, the small size of the campus – compared to UM’s Coral Gables campus – means that most people are somehow affected by the lack of parking. Despite the shortage of spaces, however, many view it as a minor inconvenience at most.

“I usually carpool, which is the best thing to do,” Yager said.

Though Drennan typically bikes or takes the shuttle to Virginia Key, he said he was affected by the construction when he recently drove his car and parked at the Seaquarium.

According to Drennan, a professor’s car was recently broken into while parked at the Seaquarium. In response, RSMAS hired a security escort to ease crime worries.

Drennan said that the only thing that students and faculty can do is wait.

“It’s going to be tight parking for the next couple of years,” Drennan said. “But it’s all for the greater good.”