By Robert Mendelson
The Board of Education (BOE) confirmed at Monday night’s meeting that the plans for the proposed North High parking lot would be moving forward and that there will be no reconsideration despite the valid objections raised.
Though the BOE approved a traffic study, when it was asked if the results of the study could potentially nix the project, Board President Barbara Berkowitz answered no. If a traffic study confirms that the influx of 100 more cars will cause a more chaotic and unsafe arrival time to the school, isn’t that enough reason to consider using the existing and free Parkwood parking lot? Instead, she suggested the plans would be modified. Does that mean reducing the number of spots and still proceed to destroy a priceless green space?
What if the traffic study confirms what many have said all along: that the majority of student drivers come five to 10 minutes before classes begin, and many after 8 a.m., and the lots are not filled to capacity throughout the day? Is that not enough reason to consider saving taxpayers $652,000? Today, at 7:55 a.m., cars were still arriving in the two lots on Beach Road—and there was only one car on the street. From 8:03 to 8:22 a.m., seven more students arrived in their cars.
Installing a new lot will allow more students to come late—at the expense of the environment and the taxpayer. Fiscal and environmental irresponsibility is the lesson being taught to the next generation.
When asked if a study was done to validate the need for additional parking, the BOE had no comment. Since they have never produced a study, one can assume that the public has been asked to foot the bill based on the hunch of some administrators and parents that additional spots are needed and this would be a good place to put them. Looking at the minutes of the Shared Decision Making Committee and the sparse comments made about the proposal to create a parking lot indicate that the “security reasons” were an afterthought to justify spending the public’s money.
Finally, the BOE has never mentioned how the projected operating costs of this new lot will increase all future budgets with snow removal, as well as the cost of dealing with an ongoing water problem that has plagued the neighbors and much of Beach Road since the installation of more parking spots in the upper lot when the tennis courts were removed. The architects who designed the upper lot shunted the water to the neighbors’ properties and some to the soccer field. There is a fairly new PVC pipe that leads from the upper lot to the playing field. The neighbor living closest to the water outflow has lost 13 trees over the past decade due to the undermining of the trees’ root systems from the outflow of the school’s water.
Just as the designers of the parking lots didn’t observe the traffic at arrival and dismissal time, they did not observe the water flow onto adjacent properties during and after rain storms.
Given all the arguments against this parking lot, one would think this would give the BOE pause to rethink the lot rather than to have their voter base lose faith in all their future decisions. Instead, they just move forward, thinking that reconsideration of a bad decision demonstrates weakness, rather than rational intelligence, on their part.