Photo credit Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications
For an outsider, it might be hard to understand why anyone would celebrate the opening of a parking structure.
But for everyone who has ever tried – and failed – to find a parking spot on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, the joyous nature of the Cherry Street Parking Structure’s grand opening made perfect sense.
“This might be the first party I’ve ever attended for a parking structure,” Chancellor Leo Morton told a laughing crowd.
All around him, nearly 100 people gathered for live music, snow cones, raffles and a chance to celebrate the completion of the new six-level, 1,500-vehicle garage.
As the jubilant crowd celebrated the end of scrambling for hard-to-find parking spaces, University of Missouri Board of Curators member Warren Erdman touched on the bigger picture.
“I really think this is UMKC’s finest hour,” Erdman said.
He praised the UMKC community’s commitment to capital projects, like the new Cherry Street Parking Structure.
“I am really, really proud of what has been achieved in the past few years, much of it with student fees, but some of it also on the University of Missouri system’s balance sheet,” Erdman said.
Of course, that commitment came with sacrifice. Morton thanked students, faculty, staff and visitors for cooperating with UMKC as it replaced the outdated 709-vehicle Oak Street Parking Structure.
“We knew this was something we really had to get done for this university, but I have to tell you, we really regretted having to go through a year without having a structure like this in place,” Morton said.
The old parking structure no longer met the needs of UMKC’s growing campus. The Student Government Association was particularly supportive of the creation of a new parking structure. When the project was still being considered, the Student Government Association approved the project because it was deemed to be in the best interests of the whole campus.
Senior Linnaia McKenzie, a member of SGA, spoke of the SGA’s supportive role in creating a “parking structure that serves many purposes and looks good too.”
One of the structure’s purposes is to serve nearly everyone. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors are able to park in the new structure. Metered visitor parking is available on the fifth level, near the structure’s two walkways. One walkway provides access to the Student Union, the other to the Performing Arts area.
The parking structure has three entrances/exits: One each on Oak Street, 50th Street and Cherry Street. Cyclists and commuters may also make use of the structure. The space houses secure bicycle storage, and two public showers that may be used by bicyclists.
The University Police and mailroom occupy space in the ground floor of the garage.
No grand opening would be complete without a ribbon cutting, but the traditional oversized pair of scissors just didn’t seem fitting for this event.
So, to honor the past and future of UMKC, Vera Olson, the wife of the late Dr. James Olson, sat in the passenger seat of a vintage car, which represented the history of the old structure, which was built under Olson’s leadership. Olson was UMKC’s Chancellor and the UM system president.
As Olson’s vehicle exited the lot, a new Chevy Volt, driven by McKenzie, tore through a ribbon as it entered the new structure.