NU’s daily jam – Cars outnumber parking spots at school, but solutions are few
If you arrive at Nevada Union High School on time, you’re late.
That’s the opinion of more than a few students who drive to the school as early as 7 a.m., a full half hour before the first regularly scheduled class begins.
With 2,600 students – nearly one-third of whom are eligible to drive – the refrain of “no place to park” is a familiar and agonizing one for those who have to scour the campus lot and surrounding areas for a secure location for their vehicles.
One Nevada Union senior is trying to turn the tide by petitioning a Grass Valley city committee to lift what he believes are archaic parking restrictions in the Morgan Ranch neighborhood across the street from the school.
Matthew Honea, 18, is preparing for a Feb. 16 hearing before the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, where he hopes to persuade a group of city officials and members of the public to lift the two-hour parking limit for approximately 70 parking spaces along Via Vista, Woodcrest Way and Ventana Sierra streets that were installed per a city ordinance that the Grass Valley City Council passed nearly 10 years ago.
Honea has alerted the residents of Morgan Ranch to his plans, and he said those he spoke with believe the plan to end the parking restrictions might be a good idea.
“I think we have a good chance of removing the ordinance, and I think people really believe those signs should be removed,” he said.
Senior Narayan Jorgensen said he’d gladly support lifting of the limits on parking in Morgan Ranch, even though he probably won’t be around to see it happen, if it does.
“During the day, nobody uses those spots but us.”
The crusade is part of Honea’s senior project, which is required by all members of the class of 2005.
Honea believes the project would greatly aid the school by opening up approximately 70 spaces to drivers. For this year, the school issued 371 parking permits, though many more than that drive to school each year.
Sophomores, who generally receive their licenses during the second half of the year, don’t have access to the student parking lots until their junior year.
They aren’t the only ones who receive parking tickets issued by the city of Grass Valley.
Honea said he received three such tickets last year at the restricted-parking areas.
While Honea pursues his drive to increase parking for his fellow students, administrators with the Nevada Joint Union High School District say there are no concrete plans to add more parking in the immediate future.
In addition to the student parking lot, those with cars have access to lots at the Truth Worship Center and the First Baptist Church across from campus.
Students may park there for free during school hours. In exchange, the high school district spends as much as $30,000 annually to repave and re-stripe the lots. The district also provides trash cans and security during school hours.
“It’s been a good relationship,” said Paul Palmer, the district’s director of school construction and facilities. “We try to manage the lots as if they were our own.”
The agreement with First Baptist dates to 2001, according to the school district.
At present, the high school district has scarce space to expand its parking options, Palmer said. When the school’s wrestling gym opened last year, that created additional parking spaces.
A 15,000-square-foot patch of asphalt now used as a staging area for contractors working on improvements to the high school could be used for as many as 40 parking spaces once the construction crews leave in a few years, but even that would do little to alleviate the problem, Palmer said.
There could be hope on the horizon, Palmer added. The school’s G wing in the newer part of campus closer to the wrestling area will be moving in several months as part of the beginning of a second phase of renovations to the campus.
Construction on that second phase is being provided by $5 million in state matching funds from Measure A, a $15 million bond passed by voters in 2002.
Once the G wing portables are removed, “there’s going to be a natural availability of some parking, but to some extent, we don’t know.”
Phase 2 is expected to begin in 2006, Palmer said.
It’s a date that won’t have much effect on the few students interviewed during a lunch period this week.
Junior Sarah Hurley said more parking should be at the top of the priority list for new construction projects.
“We’re such a spread-out community,” said Hurley, who drives to school each day from Greenhorn Road. “Even if I wanted to take the bus, I couldn’t.”
The only reason Hurley is able to get a parking space is because she arrives at 6:30 a.m. each day for jazz band practice. If you’re not in an extra-curricular activity that meets before school starts, you’re probably out of luck.
Junior Audrey Miller, 16, said the fact that sophomores can’t park in the church or student lots puts a damper on their new experience.
“If you’re a sophomore, it should be exciting to drive to school.”
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