Parking plans continue after addressed concerns at House of Reps meeting

The Facilities Management Budget & Planning Director responded to SAC’s concerns at the Boca House of Representatives meeting last Friday


Elisabeth Gaffney

Azita Dotiwala, Facilities Management Budget and Planning director, presenting on screen during the House of Representatives meeting on Feb. 17, 2023.

Elisabeth Gaffney, Staff Writer

FAU will proceed with their plans of building a parking garage over the land adjacent to the Tortuga Nature Trail and no animal habitats will be impacted, according to Facilities Management Budget and Planning Director Azita Dotiwala.

Dotiwala attended the Boca House of Representatives meeting through video this past Friday in response to a recent resolution written by the Sustainability Action Committee (SAC), which urged FAU not to build a parking garage over a conservation area, backing it with 96% agreement from a representative sample of FAU students.

She said that the entrance to the Tortuga Trail is not an area where tortoises burrow.

“If there is any potential future tortoise burrow that is located there, that will be addressed if and when we develop on the site to make sure that everything is done in accordance with Florida Fish and Wildlife regulations as far as permitting and relocating gopher tortoises,” reassured Dotiwala.

Facilities Management performs habitat assessments every six months, where all burrows are identified and located in the preserve. A recent report was included on the last few slides of Dotiwala’s presentation to the house.

“The latest report that I received was in January 2023, and that report shows one burrow on the very edge but not within the footprint of where the proposed parking garage would be going,” said Dotiwala.

Dotiwala’s overarching message was that sometimes compromises have to be made, but Facilities Management is working hard to maintain the preservation area “as it is identified.”

House Representative Rachel Starck, who had a big part in representing the cause, feels Dotiwala was accurate in her responses to Student Government’s concerns, but that some questions were left unanswered or insufficiently explained.

Starck believes there is more research to do on her end because the discussion with Dotiwala introduced new ideas and aspects to consider. Going forward, Starck plans on speaking further with Facilities Management to propose alternative solutions.

“I want to look into how much more it is going to cost to build on a flat lot. I know she mentioned it’s going to cost more money,” said Starck. “She’s saying there are things that have to be compromised. I feel like there is a solution to this problem.”

Elisabeth Gaffney is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this article or others, you can email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @elisabethgaff.