At the Aug. 27 Montville School Board meeting, two seniors brought up the issue of lack of parking spots at Montville High School. Superintendent Paul Fried said High School Principal Doug Sanford moved to the lottery system over the first come, first park for several reasons, including safety and punctuality.
Student Caity Przetak suggested that since students were not allowed to park at the library, possibly some teachers could park at the library.
“There have been a couple of ideas that have been said. One of the ideas would be to have a senior fundraiser or a senior work day where we would put gravel in the old senior parking lot, which is now a caged field that is not being used. If it used, it’s used only about 10 times in the year.”
Another idea, she said, was to split the senior class into three groups and allow each group to park on a designated day from Day 1-3. Day 4 parkers would be chosen by lottery. “At least every student will have at least one day of parking, so that would be rather fair,” she said.
Board member Michael Palma said that the practice field is used more than 10 times a year but “with us having turfed that field and allowing more use on that field … is there any thought that we could retire the practice field and turn that back into parking?”
“It’s not going to provide enough parking anyways. You’ve got the whole community center. There are plenty of spots there,” said Board member John Morella.
Board Member Tom Mazzaccaro said that he was present when the high school addition was put on, an environmental factor forced the district to turn the current practice field from an impervious parking lot to a field.
Board Member Carmela Novi said that she didn’t “know if we can provide short term relief for the seniors, but we should put this on facilities and finance for long term solution. It’s a chronic problem … Maybe this is a bubble year with a larger class.”
Board Member Jackie Ritschel said that the board discussed this four years ago that the two largest classes were going to come into the high school, class of 2013 and 2014.
Mazzaccaro added that when the high school addition was put in, there was a proposal for two parking lots. “One along the northeast side that could put 100 parking spaces and (another) back near the teachers’ parking lot on the hill, another 100 or so (spots).” He added that the cost estimated at that time was “about $150,000 … probably more today, but we ought to look at this for the future. The reason why we looked at this at that time was because of the increased enrollment in the schools. We know it’s going down, but it’s going to take a few years before it goes down to the levels of the early 90s. I believe it could be resurrected again, for next year possibly … I don’t think it’s going to be that expensive and it should be explored maybe by the facilities committee.”
Resident Nancy Chang brought up another suggestion.
“With the little houses that’s not being used as little houses, there’s a lot of parking there and having walked once through the woods to see if there are connectivity through the community land, library land and school land,” there is parking space available and students could walk through the woods to school, said Chang, adding that the woods is so often used as a path that the “path has been marked off by boy scouts or those who have walked through it in the past.
The land Chang mentioned is owned by the town, but Mazzaccaro added that “the grades there are severe. W did look at it from a township perspective to put a road in there, but the difference in elevation is 20 feet or more. The path is a nature path and the risk of having people walk that path in inclement weather … would far outweigh the benefits of putting parking spaces in.”
The board decided to put the parking issue on the next agenda.