UK trading handicap accessible parking lot for green space

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Some changes are coming to a campus parking lot used by handicapped students at the University of Kentucky.

UK officials say the changes have been in the works for a while, and the students aren't losing any spaces. But the students tell us the changes will make it harder for them to get to class.

You see expansion on campus everywhere you look. News dorms and buildings are going up left and right. But for some students at UK, it's give and take.

"It seems like a lot of the parking spaces are disappearing around here," said Dillon Adams, a senior at UK with a handicap parking pass.

A disability, an injury, or an accident put them parking in a certain lot on campus.

"I fractured my lateral plateau. It's part of your knee." Chris Summers, a junior at UK.

"If I didn't have to use a wheelchair, God knows I wouldn't. But I have to," said Jack Strunk, another senior at UK. "I don't have legs."

That parking lot has 17 handicap accessible spots that are snugged right beside the Gillis Building on UK's campus.

"This has always been kind of one of those awkward areas, so it's been planned to go away for a number of years," said Lance Broeking, the director of UK Parking and Transportation Services. "And this is just the manifestation of that."

The parking spaces are getting kicked to the curb for green space to meet UK's goal of making the campus greener.

"I mean still to take away that many spots just to have extra green space seems a little outrageous," said Summers.

"That's going to affect a lot of people including me," said Adams.

But according to the director of UK parking and transportation services, they'll still have 604 handicap accessible parking spots campuswide.

"We're not necessarily eliminating spaces. We're going to replace the same number of spaces elsewhere," said Broeking. "But like you said, the spaces may not be as convenient as these."

The reality is they'll have to drive on out of there come March 17 and park elsewhere. But those options may have some obstacles, like crossing busy intersections on South Limestone at Parking Structure No. 5 and on Rose Street in another parking garage. They're also farther from these students' classes.

"I'd gladly get my legs and vision back, and I'd park 20 miles away if I could, but that's not a possibility," said Strunk.

"It's definitely not going to be easier," said Summers.

And construction makes it all even more inconvenient, but for these three men, parking isn't and won't be their biggest challenge yet.

"There's been a lot of times that people have been like, 'You can't do that,'" said Strunk. "And I'm like, 'You want to bet?'"

The director of UK Parking and Transportation Services says his office has been working with the Disability Resource Center to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any commuters concerned about that lot closing are asked to call that office at (859) 257-6319. The director, Lance Broeking, says they can help commuters develop an individual plan for transportation if needed.

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