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Gainesville State College to get more parking
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Gainesville State College could have a new two-story student parking deck as early as February 2009.

The Georgia Board of Regents, meeting at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, voted Wednesday to approve a $75 million bond issue, including $4.5 million for the 300-vehicle deck at Gainesville State.

"We are very excited. This is something we have needed" for a long while, said Paul Glaser, vice president for business and finance.

Design work could begin in the spring and construction could start in July on the structure, which would be up the hill from the college’s amphitheater and slightly below parking lots I and J off Mathis Drive.

The 20-year bond issue will cover the initial construction costs, which the college will repay through a $30-per-semester fee charged to students that could be tacked onto the current $10 parking fee, Glaser said.

"The reason we were getting a favorable response from the folks downtown," Glaser said, referring to the University System of Georgia, of which Gainesville State is a member institution, "is that (the project) would be paid for by student fees."

The college plans soon to spread the word among students about the project, Glaser added.

No doubt many will be happy to ante up the fee.

The campus has about 5,000 students — another 2,000 are at the Watkinsville campus — and 1,728 parking spaces, including 308 that just opened near the continuing education building off Landrum Education Drive.

Construction on the new structure could begin just as work on another project, the $8 million renovation and expansion of the student center, is winding down.

The student center project, which began this month, involves an expansion to 55,392 square feet from 34,732 square feet, resulting in a major increase in student meeting and lounge space and the size of the game room and Cyber Café computer center.

The college is paying for the project through $5 million in state funding and a $3 million loan from its foundation. It is repaying the loan through a $30-per-semester student fee.

Students also must pay a $42-per-semester activity fee and a $38-per-semester technology fee, Glaser said.

Also, an 117,000-square-foot building to house the continuing education, humanities and business departments is one of University System’s top two priorities in its capital improvements budget for next year.

College president Martha Nesbitt has long pushed for that project, which in 2005 was estimated to cost $25.7 million.

"I’m very hopeful that if the legislature passes that budget, by next July we’ll get design money for the new building and the following July, money for (construction of) the new building," Nesbitt has said.