PARKING FIASCO AT BENTLEY COLLEGE
July 3, 2002
Robert H. Minetti
VP for Institutional Advancement
175 Forest Street
Waltham MA 02452-4795
Thank you for sending me the latest issue of the Observer Alumni Update, which is unfailingly informative and well-designed. Kudos to your publications team, who produce great work despite significant graphic challenges (i.e. too many mandatory "grip and grin" images.) Receiving the Observer today was a helpful reminder that I had intended to respond to a recent annual fund solicitation from Bentley.
I wanted to write to share the relief I felt while reading, in an earlier Observer, about Bentley College's plans for the Nathan R. Miller Parking Deck. For years I had agonized that my financial contributions to my alma mater had been perhaps on the meager side. But when I read that Bentley College could afford to waste $2.5 million dollars on a parking facility, I knew that my minimal contributions were no longer needed.
In an era of increasing traffic congestion, environmental degradation, fossil fuel depletion, urban sprawl, road rage, and other auto-related maladies, I am shocked that Bentley College would further encourage its students to drive by providing subsidized parking. It's especially disappointing that Bentley College, of any institution, doesn't "get" a fundamental economic truism: If the demand for an available commodity (parking, in this instance) exceeds supply, RAISE THE PRICE.
Let's see: $2.5 million invested at a conservative five percent return (well, maybe not "conservative" these days, eh?) would yield $125,000 per year. To achieve a comparable return from investing this sum in a 265-space parking facility, assuming the (unlikely) scenario of 100 percent occupancy for 365 days, means you would need to charge a daily parking fee of approximately $1.50. This calculation, provided courtesy of my fine Bentley education, excludes operating expenses (insurance, lighting, security, maintenance, etc.) and opportunity costs of the real estate covered with asphalt instead of something useful.
From a visit to Bentley.edu (which, sadly, has not a hint of transit information for non-driving campus visitors), I see that parking at Bentley is free on a "first come, first served" basis. So Bentley College is subsidizing automobile driving to the tune of a buck-fifty a day (and likely more). Seems like Bentley could buy every person needing a parking space a monthly MBTA pass and come out ahead. While I am ashamed of my alma mater's environmental insensitivity (or is it "stupidity"), I am delighted that my financial contributions are no longer needed. I can help Bentley College by simply not driving to campus.
Thanks again for sending the Observer, and for all your consideration.
Class of 1983
cc: Joseph G. Morone, Jennifer A. Spira, Beth Kun, W. Michael Hoffman, Amy Coates
P.S. Gee, while I've got your attention, for "Class Notes":
Paul Dorn'83 is presently marketing manager for the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, at the University of California, Davis (www.MondaviArts.org). He is a dedicated bike commuter, and is the creator of the leading website for bike commuting information on the WWW at http://www.runmuki.com/commute. (True! Try Google, Yahoo, All The Web, Hot Bot, Lycos, etc. The site is mirrored at userwww.sfsu.edu/~pdorn)
P.P.S. As a marketing professional, I really am impressed with your publications staff's work. You should scrap your next garage project and give them all a raise!!! Now if you can just do something about all those cheesy photos of well-padded white folks.
P.P.P.S. I am saddened to see that W. Michael Hoffman is the sole remaining faculty member of the trio of instructors at Bentley whom I respected (the others being Richard Gehr and Neil Harris). Prof. Hoffman will recall me perhaps as the guy who introduced his "Nature and Philosophy" class to "Thumper" on Martha's Vineyard. Enough said on that, except that I've been sober for a decade, thankfully.