Staff Council Minutes
September 6, 2007
2:00 – 3:00 pm
In Attendance: Sandy Bycenski, Toby Davis, Navae Fenwick, Chris Gentes, Karin LaBarge, Merrilyn Lewis, Pattie Lumbra, Trish Mailler, Jen Matos, Kathryn Messier, Ken Molnar, Barbara Pliska, Pat Rist, Rick Rubin, Sam Rush, Bill Sheehan, Janet Spongberg, Art Usher, Becca Washut, Kathy Yarnell, John Zaikowski
Guests: Linda LaFlam, Paul Ominsky
Minutes from August meeting were approved with no changes. Minutes will be sent to Chris for Staff Council webpage.
Parking & Public Safety Discussion with Paul Ominsky
- Paul started out by explaining to the group why the parking changes came into effect.
- The question of parking was a result of Smith seeking a building permit from the City of Northampton for the Ford Engineering Building.
- There were concerns from the city, as a parking spot needs to be built for every X square foot (we were unable to determine the exact number of square feet).
- Based on the size of the proposed Engineering building, Smith would have been required to build 300 additional parking spaces.
- Fuss & O’Neill of West Springfield, MA was called in to do a parking study.
- They provided a parking master plan, which is available in it’s entirety on the parking section of the Public Safety website at: http://www.smith.edu/pubsafety/parking.html
- The master plan was submitted to the senior staff at the end of the spring semester. Senior staff decided to immediately take on three of the approximately forty recommendations set forth in the study.
- Opt-Out Program: Over seventy incentives within the op-out program have been issued, and it’s expected that that number will double before the end of the year.
- Zip Cars: The College has a long-term goal of adding more Zip Cars to campus. For every Zip Car rented by Smith, the City will allow us to have twenty fewer spaces.
- Mobile Decals: Staff or faculty can register at least two cars, and can move the pass from one to other.
- If your decal is difficult to take off, bring your car to Public Safety, and they will replace it with one that works better.
- All-in-all, Fuss & O’Neill said that we have a good set of rules and regulations for the campus.
- According to Paul, a committee will be appointed this fall to address the remainder of recommendations from the parking study.
- Some of the recommendations are:
- A pricing and permitting structure different to what we have now
- That mixed lots (both staff/faculty and student) don’t work
- There are many empty parking spaces each day.
- A possible plan is to move student spaces parking areas not in the center of the main campus, leaving spaces closer to academic buildings open for staff/faculty/visitor.
- Smith is considering Dartmouth’s model for the opt-out and carpool programs to implement here.
- The biggest challenge is determining how it can be done so public safety is clear on who’s violating the parking rules.
- Too many different types of stickers would cause confusion.
- The City is working on a residency only parking plan.
- Residents of the side streets around campus would have parking permits, which would keep staff/faculty/students from parking in neighborhoods.
- The City will also be installing meters farther up Elm Street, closer to the Quad area.
- Solutions that need to be implemented won’t be determined by Public Safety, but will be the responsibility of the committee.
- Rick suggested that a member of staff council be invited to attend the committee.
- Paul said he would make that recommendation to Ruth Constantine
Open Discussion and Questions
- Initial implementation of parking changes
- Was the new parking policy pushed through?
- There were three scheduled community sessions for staff and faculty to discuss the policies, and opportunities for feedback.
- Some staff feel the way in which the new policies were communicated were ineffective.
- As the change was announced at the end of the semester, it came at a time when not everyone would have seen it.
- Was E-Digest the best way to announce the forums?
- For something so important, could an e-mail blast aimed directly at this topic been done?
- Not everyone has access to E-Digest. Perhaps there should have been a limited amount of paper flyers printed to distribute to departments whose employees don’t have access to a computer.
- Opt-Out Program and change in cost of parking permits:
- The question was raised about what portion of faculty and staff are benefiting from the program. Paul says that it’s 50% faculty and 50% staff.
- As the program is open to people who live within ½ mile of campus, it seems that more faculty than staff would be eligible for the program (those who make more money, i.e. faculty, can afford homes closer to campus, and can therefore participate).
- The money for the opt-out program ($250 per person per fiscal year), comes from the cost of parking decals sold.
- The program implies a perceived inequity between staff and faculty, and senior staff should be made aware of this situation.
- Parking during inclement weather
- It was brought up my members that during inclement weather, some keys spots are taken up by snow banks.
- Is it appropriate for staff to come in at the regular time when all of the lots are cleared?
- According to Paul, that decision must be made by the people who determine whether or not the College will remain open.
- Lack of parking when students arrive on-campus
- This year, Public Safety will give the students one week to park outside of the green-lined spots (in the past, they’ve been given two weeks). After Monday 09/10, all parking rules will be enforced.
- Service stickers
- Why did the price for service stickers remain the same?
- The cost of these stickers is contractual.
- There are some people who have them and aren’t really service personnel.
- The manager for each department must send Public Safety a list of people who are eligible for a service sticker. Stickers are issued based on this list.
- Meters in Dickinson Lot
- Why were meters installed in the Dickinson Lot?
- Due to construction on Belmont Ave., meters needed to be removed. According to the City, the meters had to be replaced somewhere.
- Dickinson Lot was the only available space at that time.
- Parking at Veteran’s Center in Leeds
- The City wants to create a park and ride lot at the VA, and Smith wants to be a part of that process.
- The timing of that implementation hasn’t yet been determined
- Is a shuttle available?
- There is a shuttle run by SGA, but it’s occasionally not as consistent as it should be.
- Paul feels that the campus is very safe compared to other schools of a similar size. Public Safety will be installing 36 new blue-light phones
- In light of the Virginia Tech tragedy, a mass notification system is under negotiation. They hope to make a decision shortly.
- Arming public safety officers
- A letter will be going out today from President Christ and Ruth Constantine, concerning whether or not our public safety officers should be armed.
- They currently carry batons and pepper spray, but are also looking at a range of options recommended by a recent study.
- The consultant’s report is a starting point for campus discussion; nothing has been finalized yet.
This portion of the meeting ended with Rick expressing his thanks to Paul for coming to speak with us. He also mentioned how much we appreciate the work Public Safety has done, and how we hope we can help to make it better.
- Mountain Day: apple crisp and ice cream on lawn between College and Pierce Halls
- Haunted Hay Ride at McCray’s Farm: working on getting a coupon for $5 off adult tickets and $2 off child ticket
- Tickets will be sold at the Campus Center, and staff will be able to go whenever they want, not with a group of other staff.
- Staff Social: hoping to plan for Sept. 28
- Bus trip to NYC: scheduled for Dec. 1
- General announcement: the Food Bank of Western MA will be coming to Smith Oct. 1-5.
- Donation collection box locations will be posted through E-Digest.
- Jen will e-mail Chris to include announcement on Staff Council website.
- Meeting with College Relations to discuss use of E-Digest: Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. in Garrison Conference Room
Personnel Policy Committee
- Meeting with Larry Hunt: Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. at Human Resources
- The College has decided to discontinue the Employee Recognition Awards.
- Instead of an all-staff awards ceremony, employee’s significant years of service (i.e., 10, 15, 20, etc.) will be recognized with a separate luncheon.
- Based on their years of service, employees will be given points that they can use to purchase prizes on a website.
The next Staff Council Meeting will take place Thursday, October 4 at 2 p.m. in the Mary Maples Dunn Conference Room.