FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- For the first time in the school's history, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith will require parking permits in all lots on campus.
Starting Sept. 1, students and faculty will have to display a parking permit on the windshield of their cars to park on campus.
"The parking program we are implementing will require faculty, staff, and students to register their vehicles and then park in designated areas according to their level of registration," UAFS Chief of Police Ray Ottman said.
The permits for faculty and staff are free, but for students, the permits range from $60 to $120, and some students see that as a financial inconvenience.
"The parking on campus is pretty good," student Stacey Vangorder said. "You know, I never have trouble finding a spot. I just feel like it's unnecessary. I feel like the cost of building the program, doing software, hiring somebody to maintain the program sounds like we are piling expenses on and we have to figure out a way to pay for it."
But other students think it's worth it.
"After the past couple of years where they have built buildings, but not built parking," student, Christopher Welch said. "Hopefully this money can go towards parking so that way there will be less hardship of finding a parking spot and more accessibility to campus."
Ottman said some students' financial aid will pay for the fee, but not all. Once the permit is purchased online, the fee will transfer to the student's account, where it can be paid.
The permits will be valid from Sept. 1, 2016 until Aug. 31, 2017 and will be required Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. on weekdays, and on the weekends, parking will be free.
As for visitors, they will be required to get a free visitor pass from the campus center during the weekday requirement hours.
Ottman said this program has been in the works since last December and the University wanted to announce it to the public when everything was taken care of.
"We had some pieces of the puzzle that hadn't come together yet," Ottman said. "We wanted to roll it out at one time, rather than put something out that was incorrect or beyond our control and have to re-issue a new statement and new policies."
UAFS hopes this new parking program will make campus safer and help campus police keep up with who is parking on campus.
"We will also know who is here and more important, who is not here," Ottman said. "If [a car] is not registered, it can narrow down things if we have a search, if we have to know if someone was on our campus or not."
The money from the purchases of parking permits will go to the university's main account, which will be used primarily for parking lot maintenance, security features within the parking lots, and sidewalks. Ottman said lighting regulations for campus parking lots have changed and lighting has been a concern in the lots, so the money will also be used towards those concerns.
For cars parked on campus without valid permits, the ticket fee will be $25 and can go up to $100 if the car is parked in a handicap space.
During large events on campus, Ottman said parking vouchers will be given to those attending the event.
The university also plans to hold information sessions on the parking changes once students return to campus for the fall semester.