Speaking Out

September 16, 1997


Parking Around Curie Boulevard

Where are Penn's priorities?

In recent months R&K towing has adopted a ferocious campaign against cars parked (even for two minutes) around Curie and Osler Boulevards. Tow trucks constantly en-circle this area, especially at times when brief parking is likely to happen. Cars are towed even if they are completely out of the way, and not obstructing anything, no matter how brief the period. Yet, large trucks containing building supplies, and cabless containers, are allowed to be parked in the tow-away zones on Curie Boulevard for hours, even days, when some of them are actually obstructing fire hydrants. These trucks do not even get parking tickets.

Many of the briefly parked cars belong to dedicated scientists who must stop by, at all hours of the night, to quickly stop an experiment. Due to Penn's parking policies, many of these scientists do not have access to evening parking cards necessary to park in the only close-by parking lot, #44. Even if they could park in Lot 44, the walk to CRB or Abramson is not safe late at night. Passages are narrow and bushy, and there are no guards. The other option is to park in the deserted/dangerous Seashore parking lot, which is outrageously expensive.

If the University is not condoning R&K towing's ruthless activities, why does it not stop them? Why is illegal parking only allowed to build buildings, and not perform science? One solution would be for the University to install parking meters in this area that, like all other meters in the Penn area, are free at night. This way, scientists working at night could safely do their experiments, and everyone could have brief and tow-free access to this area for five minutes without paying an arm and a leg.

- Name Withheld

Ed. Note: Almanac does not accept anonynmous letters but does have a process for withholding the name of the writer. It requires that the writer's identity be known to two persons, normally the editor and the chair of the Almanac Advisory Board, both of whom are pledged to confidentiality. This letter met the criteria for such publication.

Response to 'Name Withheld'

As Director of Penn's Parking Services and as Penn's representative on the PGHDC Operating Committee, I am in a position to speak to your concerns and offer some advice.

Curie Boulevard, Osler Circle and East Service Drive are roadways located in and around private property (also bordering on the north side of Civic Center Boulevard) that used to be the site of the old Philadelphia General Hospital, but is now managed by the PGH Development Corporation (PGHDC), a healthcare consortium comprised of the University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Children's Seashore House. Although the major buildings on this site are owned and operated by the individual institutions, the roadways, sidewalks, public spaces, two parking garages (underground garage and the highrise parking deck) and the maintenance and care of these spaces are the responsibility of PGHDC.

PGHDC has adopted a "no parking" policy for all of the public spaces and thoroughfares (except the parking garages), PGHDC has posted these spaces including the roadways with appropriate signage and PGHDC has contracted with a private towing company to enforce the no-parking policies. The construction vehicles and trash containers that you speak of are a temporary problem that will go away when Penn completes its construction of the Biomedical Research Building II (the final major construction project on the PGH site). However, tolerating illegally parked cars, even for a short period of time, seems to be interpreted by those who ignore signs and warnings as condoning the practice, which just perpetuates the parking problem.

PGHDC is not responsible for providing parking for employees; each institution takes care of its own staff parking. Penn leases space in the highrise parking garage (#44) for faculty/staff parking and permit holders have 24/7 access to that garage. Penn Parking also provides permits for evening/weekend parking in that facility and special parking arrangements have been made for off-hour research. Please call the Parking Office (898-8667) for more information.

One final note: The PGHDC member instituitions, both jointly and individually, are very safety conscious, and personal security and the security of our campuses is important and taken very seriously. Rest assured that lighting, security efforts, etc. are monitored regularly by the institutions and the PGHDC Operating Committee and improvements are made as required or when necessary.

- Robert Furniss, Director, Transportation and Mail Services

Is Sansom Common Backwards?

I am writing to support Mr. Swegman's views regarding the design of Sansom Common (Speaking Out July 15).

Mr. Swegman's first criticism was about the orientation of the site plan. Instead of having its main entrance facing Walnut street, the "first-rate design" and "operating professionals" had it the other way. Just by common sense, I think these folks made a mistake in this one. According to the current design, the main entrance faces north-which means it will never see any sunshine at all. The folks who visit this vibrant community will have to settle for taking pictures with Sansom Common in the shadow.

The worst thing is that Mr. Lussenhop, the Executive Assistant for Project Development, didn't offer any specific answers throughout his response, pretty much like you can't get any straight answer to any issues out of any politicians in Washington, D.C. these days. I think that's an insult to readers' intelligence.

Can't one just say "we have considered that problem and here's why we decided to..." or " Oops, didn't think of that one, we'll get back to you later..."?

As to academic building vs. commercial development, I vote for the former as well. I came to Penn because of its academic reputation, not otherwise. Besides, enough of those too-expensive-to-shop stores. They are purely decorative to me. Just ask anybody on campus about whether they have bought anything from the shops along Walnut street in last five years and you will get the idea.

- Ping Zhou, Graduate Student in Computer & Information Science


Ed Note: Mr. Lussenhop has been invited to reply in a future issue.

Penn Authors: What'll You Have?

I'm grateful to Deborah Alexander for her letter (Almanac September 2) concerning the paucity of Penn authors in the Penn Library. As it happens, her specific suggestions suggest more about the difficulties some people may be having with the new online catalog than they suggest about the ways in which we collect literary writers. Thus, for example, Cristina Bacchilega's Postmodern Fairy Tales, a University of Pennsylvania Press imprint, is indeed at Van Pelt Library, but if one searches for the book by adding the unnecessary "h" to her first name, as Ms. Alexander's letter does ("Christina"), then the system is, alas, unforgiving enough so that you will not find this out. I am less certain of why she failed to find two of Susan Stewart's books of poems, The Hive, 1987; The Forest, 1994, or both of Deborah Burn-ham's books, Anna and the Steel Mill, 1995, and The Correspondent Voice, 1989; but all of these books are also located at Van Pelt.

Much more important, perhaps, is to point out that the bibliographers in the Library positively welcome suggestions of authors, local or exotic, for acquisition. We like books. We like readers. We like to put them in touch with one another. Treat the Library like Alice's Restaurant. You can get anything you want . . .

I would also second Ms. Alexander's warm words about the Penn Book Center. A surprising number of the poetry books added to our collections in recent years have come off the shelves of that store, possibly including some of Susan Stewart's books. It is a resource that deserves more support than it seems, of late, to be getting.

- Daniel Traister, English-language Literature Bibliographer, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short timely letters on University issues can be accepted

Thursday noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines.

Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.-Ed.