Bike Shop Coffers Refilled by SGA

After much deliberation and discussion regarding funding for the Bike Shop, the Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously passed a resolution on Nov. 16 to begin offering funding for the next three semesters.

Originally the Bike Shop was funded through the Physical Plant, but recently Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations Derek Thornton informed senior Paul Parzynski, who manages the Bike Shop, that there was no longer money in the budget to continue funding.

This left the Bike Shop without a way to pay its workers; if employees worked, they did so without compensation.

However, with the recent resolution passed by the SGA, the Bike Shop will now receive almost five thousand dollars a semester for the next three semesters.

The resolution was sponsored by Townhouse Senators senior Frank McGough and junior Katie Caffey, and SGA Vice President senior Ken Benjes and co-sponsored by Student Trustee senior Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall.

Of the five thousand dollars, $100 will be assigned to purchasing parts and the remainder will go toward the payroll, with Bike Shop employees making around $7.25 an hour and managers making around $9.00 an hour.

Thus, the Bike Shop will be funded about fifteen thousand dollars until the end of spring 2012.

The money will come from the SGA’s Special Carryover Fund, since SGA’s operating budget for the coming semester wouldn’t be able to afford the funding. According to Treasurer Matt Smith, senior, the Special Carryover Fund has around $85 thousand.

After funding for the next three semesters has expired, the SGA discussed raising student fees to support the Bike Shop. According to Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder, fees used to fund student organizations through the SGA haven’t risen in ten years.

The recent increases in student fees, Schroeder explained, have all gone directly to initiatives such as the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Fund, not to the general budget.

Thus, if SGA decides to increase student fees, the additional money would fund not only the Bike Shop, but other student clubs and organizations, though nothing has been resolved as of yet.

Originally, members of the SGA voiced concerns that the Bike Shop currently has no overseeing faculty or staff member to whom employees report, as SafeRide does.

Previously, Thornton oversaw operations, but without funding, the Bike Shop had no faculty or staff member in charge.

Eventually, SGA concluded that the Bike Shop will report to both the Treasurer of the SGA and a St. Mary’s faculty advisor or sponsor. Additionally, funding will not be disbursed until both an oversight structure and a faculty or staff advisor has been approved by the SGA Treasurer.

Parzynski was pleased with the amount of funding and the organizational structure the resolution proposed. “It’s exactly what we wanted–money.” Parzynski also commented that the Bike Shop would not need more than the fifteen thousand dollars they’ve been allotted, nor do they need more than $100 for parts.

The funding will now allow for approximately five to eight employees working around 20 hours a week, including one manager and seven mechanics.

For Parzynski and the Bike Shop, SGA’s funding couldn’t have come sooner.

“We’ve had to fight way too hard to get five grand a semester. Ever since we started we’ve been fighting to stay alive.”

Bike Shop to Terrify Pedestrians No Longer?

The Terrified Pedestrian Bike Shop’s financial hardships could threaten its ability to remain open. (Photo by Steve Rees)
The Terrified Pedestrian Bike Shop’s financial hardships could threaten its ability to remain open. (Photo by Steve Rees)
Despite ample business and a dedicated staff, a complete funding cut to the on-campus Bike Shop threatens to derail the project for good.

The Terrified Pedestrian Bike Shop was created by Mike Benjamin, ‘09, in the fall of 2008 after the discontinuation of the FreeRide program, a bike-sharing program from two years prior which failed when students took bikes and neglected to bring them back, or seriously damaged them.

Since its creation, the Bike Shop has dealt with a move from Queen Anne Hall to the Waring Commons common room and, according to Bike Shop employee senior Paul Parzynski, threatened funding loss last year as a result of college funding cut-backs.

This year, however, Parzynski and other members of the Bike Shop were informed by Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations Derek Thornton, who manages the shop through the Physical Plant, that there was no money in the budget.

Thornton said that the Physical Plant currently pays Parzynski, along with current employees junior Roger Ding, senior Aaron French, and junior Mike Adashek, through a contingency plan “until [future] funding is identified.”

However, Parzynski said that until that occurs there is no budget to hire or pay any other employees, an issue considering the large number of people who have shown interest in working for the shop.

He added that until funding is found, the bike shop cannot expand its services to include bike sharing or improve its organization through a potential manager position.

Parzynski said that funding for the shop has always been ambiguous, but until recently it had received more money than needed. Parzynski further theorized that since the bike shop has come in significantly under budget the past few years, this may have been seen by administrators as a lack of activity.

Thornton said that the funding cut related to confusion regarding what services the bike shop should provide, and how its services should fit into the larger picture of the campus community. Assistant Vice President of Finance Christopher True was unavailable for comment.

Despite the Bike Shop’s budget gap, Parzynski said that since the beginning of this year alone around 70 bikes have been logged as being fixed, coming to around $3500 of directly recorded repairs.

He added that this number included only bikes which could not be fixed on-the-spot, and probably accounted for only around 40 percent of the bike shop’s business.

According to Parzynski, the reason the bike shop came under budget was that they “ran more efficiently” than administrators expected.

The employees of the shop, Thornton, and Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall are currently working on preparing a case for the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Oct. 1. Parzynski said, “our goal is to become [a financial] entity like SafeRide.”

Thornton said that he is currently meeting with the Office of Student Affairs to identify possible future funding sources.

President Joseph Urgo has also expressed interest in seeing the bike shop continue its existence, and although no decisions have been made, he said, “It would be nice to have that…[we want to] encourage bike riding on campus.”

Parzynski noted that, despite these possibilities, the bike shop as it stands now is in dire condition, and said, “I can’t imagine this place will remain open without funding.”

Video by Chris Paige, Video Editor

News in Brief

Bike Shop to Move Location

The Terrified Pedestrian bike shop is changing its location from Queen Anne Hall to the Waring Commons (WC) common room. According to senior Mike Benjamin, who spearheaded the shop’s creation and works there as a mechanic, the shop plans to move during the week before Thanksgiving break. Benjamin gave the following reasons for the move:

  1. It will facilitate bringing the services of the bike program to the most important user group, north campus residents who often opt to drive to class rather than walk or ride a bike.
  2. The WC space is more “public and marketable”: students drive by and walk by the WC common room constantly, as opposed to the current location, which Benjamin said is “effectively hidden.”
  3. The new location will be more spacious with a much larger outdoor working area.
    • There will be more room to store bikes indoor and outside, especially with the new fleet of bikes which the shop intends to use for renting to students.
    • There will be more open air and comfort, and better ventilation and atmosphere. The current shop has very poor ventilation, mold, water damage, and cockroaches.
  4. It will not interfere with residents’ lives:
    • The current space is used occasionally to play pool and ping pong.
    • The current space compromises the privacy of Queen Anne residences, and the safety of the building.
    • Attempting to increase use of the outdoor space would interfere with established programs for the residents of Queen Anne.
  5. It will be more economically viable:
    • In order to make the current space more compatible with residents, at least one card reader would need to be installed and shop hours of operation would need to be changed. This would limit important service time for students going to morning classes.
    • To get the WC space in working order, pulling up the carpeting and creating a partition between the resident assistants’ office and the common area are all that need to be done. No card access would be needed since shop workers could be given keys to the doors on the back side.
    • The WC space would also allow for hours of operation on the weekend.