For the last few years, Columbia State Community College’s Williamson County campus has faced a problem not unfamiliar to most college campuses — limited parking. But Friday morning, school administrators, students and members of the community gathered to celebrate the opening of a new parking garage that will hopefully diminish the issue.
The new 157,000-square-foot garage located just off of Knoll Top Lane houses about 470 parking spots for students, faculty and visitors.
“This $11 million project represents growth and the college’s investment in the community and for the benefit of our students,” said Vice President for Advancement Bethany Lay.
Columbia State President Janet Smith stood behind a podium at the entrance of the new garage, bundled in a coat, scarf and hat, to thank those involved in the long-time-coming project. First, though, she thanked the students for bearing with the administration as they made due with short-term parking solutions over the last couple years.
“I want to compliment our students. They have been very easy to work with in this process,” she said, appending her thanks to Franklin Mayor Moore, Hoar Construction, the Columbia State Community College Foundation and others for their support and contributions to the project.
“If you look at what we do at Columbia State, you can put it into a thing of working together and partnerships, and that’s what I’ve been talking about in terms of this garage, this campus and then the economic development we do in this community and, most importantly, what we do with our students,” she said. “It’s all a partnership, and without a partnership, we would not be successful.”
She then welcomed Vice President for the Williamson Campus Dearl Lampley, who specifically thanked the city of Franklin for allowing the school to commandeer Liberty Park for temporary auxiliary parking and the TMA Group for shuttling students back and forth and providing additional support to the school.
“We called for help, and we found that it was easy to attain,” he said.
College freshman Micah Taylor, who attended the ribbon cutting, said he comes to the campus early in the morning to procure a parking spot, but his friends that come a little later in the day don’t always have an easy time finding spaces. He said those that pull in five minutes before a class period are nearly always out of luck; students need to set aside at least 10 minutes for parking.
“This (parking garage) will definitely make things easier for everybody,” he said. “If you come here on time, you’re definitely going to have a parking space.”
Smith announced that a technology building will be the next major capital venture for the school, hoping it will be fully funded this fiscal year.
To learn more about Columbia State Community College, visit columbiastate.edu.