Permits pending for new parking

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Plans for an overflow parking lot are beginning to come together after the City of Lakeland unanimously approved construction for a new parking lot for Lake Morton Apartment residents.

The new lot will be located near South Florida Avenue and will exclusively serve Florida Southern College students.

According to the Lakeland Ledger, the roughly half-acre property is bordered by South Tennessee Avenue to the east, Riggins Street to the north, East Ridgewood Street to the south and an alley to the west.

The space, located in the South Lake Morton Historic District will provide more spaces than the current overflow parking at the Lake Morton Community Church and other designated spaces.

According to Terry Dennis, vice president of finance and administration at FSC,  there will be about 42 new spaces and construction on the lot will begin later this summer.

“We’re now working with the church that sits on the block between the parking lot and the Lake Morton Apartments, Grace City Church, to craft a way that somewhere mid block we can run a sidewalk, so student’s don’t have to go all the way to Florida Avenue to get to the apartments,” Dennis said. “We’re hoping it will make it a little easier for them to get to and from where they need to go.”

This new lot will be completely paved and finished with lights. The college intends to have a safety officer permanently stationed in the evenings to monitor the area and walk students to and from the apartments.

The purchased parcel of land holds a former reality office, which is proposed to be the new safety office. It will be operational for officers to use a computer, make phone calls and  act as a shelter to avoid any rain.

“It’ll be a place they can get out of the weather and not have to sit in the car in the middle of the lot for six hours,” Dennis said. “That way we’ll have somebody there and they can keep an eye on the cars in the lot. If a student wants somebody to walk them back to the apartments safely, there will be someone on site to do that.”

Currently, if every student in the Lake Morton complex had a car registered with the college there would not enough available spots for them.

“We have too many cars for the spots,” Dennis said. “The Community Church on the lake rents some spaces to us and there was an office on South Florida we rented from, but they moved out so we lost that lot as well as Westminster Presbyterian. Between the official parking spots, the ones we rent and these 42, it should more than hold all the cars we have at Lake Morton.”

Dennis stressed the importance of students at Lake Morton and Lake Hollingsworth parking in the designated spots with the college.

“Students really need to park in the spaces that we have told them belong to us or in legal street parking. When they park in places like Proud Gator, or the apartment complex across the street from Lake Morton, they’re hampering the businesses that occupy them and the owners don’t stay very happy with us,” Dennis said.

This is not always a problem, but campus safety will issue any illegually parked cars a ticket if they fail to park in the correct designated parking areas.

“The majority of the students are so nice, I get complements from the churchs all the time about students saying ‘hello’ or simply being nice in the parking lots, it’s just nice to hear,” Dennis said.

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