MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University is closing one of its campus parking lots. While this may not seem like a big deal, it has left the members of one Milwaukee parish frustrated.
"I love this church. It's a very old building, it's very beautiful, and it's a very holy place to come and pray," said Austin Dodge, a parishioner at Church of the Gesu.
Dodge started attending Mass at the Church of the Gesu seven years ago. Like many other parishioners, he often parks in lot F since it is free on weekends.
"It's very easy. It's a convenient place to park. You can cross the street and get in very quickly," Dodge said.
Marquette plans to close the parking lot on Monday, Feb. 19 to start construction on a new athletic center.
"We were notified basically after all the planning had been done, and key decisions were in place," said John O'Brien, Director of Operations and Administration for Gesu parish.
For 15 months, parishioners will need to find somewhere else to park.
"I very well could see it discouraging people to come because there's not a whole lot of other places to park," Dodge said.
In a statement to FOX6 News on Friday, Feb. 2, a spokesman for Marquette University said the following:
"As a landlocked, urban campus, Marquette University understands and appreciates that parking availability has an impact on everyone who visits campus and the surrounding neighborhood. As we advance our campus master plan and physically transform the university, we are mindful of the role parking plays in developing a welcoming campus community, and we continue to plan strategic short- and long-term parking solutions that will meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.
"Marquette values its longtime relationship with Gesu Parish, and we have made available a greater number of parking options — some nearer to the church than before — for Gesu parishioners who attend weekend Masses and liturgical celebrations. We invite members of the Gesu community, many of whom are alumni, friends and employees of the university, to enjoy free parking in any of the following locations, all located within a one- to two-block walk to the church:
Lot G, located on 12th Street, immediately behind Zilber Hall south of Lot F, nearer the church
Lot J, located off 11th Street, behind Gesu
Structure 2 (Wells Street Structure) — 100 first-floor spaces will be reserved in this secure facility for weekend Masses
Eckstein Hall (Law School) parking structure — 30 spaces will be reserved in this secure underground, climate controlled structure on Sundays
Street parking is also available on 12th Street and Wisconsin Avenue"
"The options pose a definite inconvenience for parishioners, and the long-term parking options at this point are ill-defined and uncertain," O'Brien said.
Marquette is making five additional parking lots available for Gesu parishioners.
While O'Brien says the parish is opposed to the project in its current form, it is working with the university to resolve this matter.