Archive for Monday, September 4, 2006

Parking problems plague students

Construction projects close one entrance, take 60 spaces in lot

September 4, 2006


Parking is an old problem at Lawrence High School, but it is an especially aggravating one this school year.

"In 1977 when I graduated, there were 1,976 students," said Tom Bracciano, division director of operations and facilities planning for the Lawrence school district. "Now there are 1,300, and they have more parking than they did when I was a student."

Still, he admits, the situation today is not good. More students have cars now than ever before and they all want to drive them to school.

LHS, 1901 La., has 360 parking places for its 1,311 students and 173 spaces for faculty, staff and district vehicles. Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive, was unable to provide the number of parking spots it has, but a site plan filed with the city's planning department shows that 1,034 spots were proposed for the school when it was built.

This year, the parking problem at LHS is exacerbated by the fact that part of its parking lot has been blocked off because of construction at the school.

A $3.6 million improvement project to build science labs and an entrance to the east gym and renovate the school's locker rooms is under way. Students and staff members are no longer able to access the main parking lot from Louisiana Street, one of three parking lot exits the school used to have, because it's blocked by construction.

"That's definitely a pain," said Lisa Lord, a senior at LHS.

"It makes it hard to get out of here," said Jake Lorenzo, also a senior at the school. "If you're trying to get out on that side (Louisiana Street), you have to drive all the way around the school."

Also, 60 precious parking spaces are gone due to the construction.

"It's been a bit of a challenge," said LHS principal Steve Nilhas.

Nilhas said he wants to use this chance to look at what can be done to ease the school's parking problems.

"We know we need to expand parking," he said. "That's been an issue for a long time, and so I think this maybe forces the issue a little bit."

Bracciano said addressing parking at LHS is part of the district's five-year facility improvement plan, but it's one of many items on that list.

"We have talked in the past about doing more parking in the south," Bracciano said. "Really, it involves getting an engineer in there to say, 'What can we reconfigure? What can we do to solve this problem?' You just don't have a lot of land to work with. I don't know what the answer is."

The parking problem is not just abuzz at the administrative level, though. Students are discussing the issue among themselves and in class.

"We were talking about it and saying the park by Centennial (School), maybe paving that over, and I think that's a good idea," said Lauren Ollila, a junior at LHS. "I don't know who uses that park, but what about the practice fields? The band practice field or the football practice field?

"They have a lot of options. They just need to take it into action."

The school district owns vacant land south of Centennial, 2145 La., and the building now houses Lawrence Virtual School. The band and football practice fields are on the west edge of the LHS campus.

Nilhas said he'd like to see a plan that takes into consideration the traffic flow on connecting streets, including congestion problems at 19th and Louisiana streets.

"It all needs to work together," he said. "It's my hope over the next couple of years we can not only improve parking we have in terms of lighting and safety but also expand what we have."


IAmNotComingBack 11 years, 8 months ago

Are you kidding me? They're going to walk 2 blocks from the parking lot to the school? I don't see it.

Paving over a park seems like an obvious solution though... It's not like kids actually play outdoors anymore. Cars are more important. And all that green stuff is pretty overrated.

Keep up the good thoughts, though, Class of '07 - it's vision like yours that got us where we are today.

compmd 11 years, 8 months ago

"We were talking about it and saying the park by Centennial (School), maybe paving that over, and I think that's a good idea," said Lauren Ollila, a junior at LHS. "I don't know who uses that park, but what about the practice fields? The band practice field or the football practice field?"

Lauren, you're an idiot. Of course you don't know who uses that park, you're supposed to be in class all day. But still, you think its a good idea to pave it over so someone for 2 or 3 years can park there. I'd find it rather funny if you lived at the residence indicated in the phonebook for your last name. That sure is a nice house on the golf course.

I went to a high school that had 3,500 students when I graduated. You know who could park there? Faculty, staff, and seniors that lived more than 1.5 miles away. Thats it. The student permits were $440 per semester, no joke, and the lots were still a few blocks away from the school. There were so many applicants that lotteries were held to determine who got a permit. Enterprising residents would rent out their driveways for MUCH more because there is always someone who wants a closer parking spot.

You know Lauren, you made me think of "Big Yellow Taxi." Good job.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps walking,jogging, cycling or The T could be considered by some. Is the The T less expensive than gasoline and insurance for teenagers? Parents stop buying your children cars.

cowboy 11 years, 8 months ago

the district has ignored this for 20 years now , pave some of that prescious ground and releive the neighbors of your parking problem.

LiberalDude 11 years, 8 months ago

compmd- How about we don't call kids idiots for expressing their opinions. I'm not saying that I agree with her but at least she's trying to come up with a solution. No need to call her an idiot.

Seriously you need to get a life and what's up with you looking her up in the phone book. That's creepy.

classclown 11 years, 8 months ago

"Keep up the good thoughts, though, Class of '07 - it's vision like yours that got us where we are today."


Keep the dream alive eh?

Maybe this is a good time for the kids to learn about carpooling. Or would that somehow be a violation of their so called rights?

compmd 11 years, 8 months ago

LiberalDude, when someone who is underinformed and unqualified to give a valuable opinion regarding an issue makes a statement, wouldn't you like to know why they made that statement? Underinformed and unqualified conservative politicians are guilty of crazy talk all the time, so I'm sure you appreciate that. Besides, I'm sure you see the irony and hypocrisy of choosing to destroy a park for a temporary self-serving desire when one lives on what is essentially an enormous park.

If you're thinking there's a significant age difference, well, that's your assumption to make, even though it is unfounded. But, therein lies the beauty of anonymous message boards. However, to ease your mind, I will let you know that I'm an awful lot younger than you might think.

I'm sorry you think Googling someone is creepy.

LiberalDude 11 years, 8 months ago

Well compmd, you're earlier post makes a lot more sense now that I know that you are young. In time you will learn that you can disagree with someone without resorting to name calling.

I do agree with you that uninformed and unqualified conservative politicians are guilty of crazy talk, but the same is true of uninformed and unqualified liberals. I guess the lesson is to not be uninformed and unqualified if you want to be a politician.

Believe me I am a big time believer in preserving green spaces, but I am also a believer that change happens and people must adjust. The number of parking spots available for students in 1960 is probably not adequate for today's society. I'm sure there are other solutions than getting rid of the park but I'm uninformed in this situation!

I feel the force is strong in you young jedi. Keep studying and learning. Also I do still think googling a high school student whose quote is in the paper and writing about where she lives on a message board is poor form.

mom_of_three 11 years, 8 months ago

Looking her name up in the phone book??? Anything to prove a point, I guess.
Let's get back to Lauren - The paper asked her opinion and she gave it. At least she had one, even if you don't agree with it.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Don't pave over that field. I live in the Centennial neighborhood a few houses down from that "park" (it's a field, not a park) and no one in the neighborhood has ever complained about parking, just a few students.

savethedaffy 11 years, 8 months ago

FYI: Students at Lawrence High School actually do park 2 blocks, even 3 or 4 blocks from the school. Sophomores at LHS are not allowed to park in the school parking lots. And due to the construction, only thirty junior class members are able to receive a parking pass. Merrill has the right idea -- students should start using some alternatives to driving their cars. Biking, the T, carpooling, walking...etc. I ride my bike to school. I am a senior at LHS and quite frankly, I think everyone should get over the fact that the school is due for some upkeep. Students should find an alternative if they aren't allowed to park and quit contributing to the general belief that our generation consists solely of lazy, apathetic individuals.

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