Student parking plagues CCHS

“Our goal this year is to give every senior a spot,” said Superintendent Laurie Hunter as she described the parking woes at Concord-Carlisle High School during the February 27 Regional School Committee (RSC) meeting. There is a shortfall of 23 parking spaces for seniors and no juniors have been given parking permits. The new high school facility has roughly 25 more legal spots than the old school, but the old school had more places to park that were not considered official. Hunter said she would like to have 100 more spaces to allow some parking for juniors and to accommodate small groups of visitors during the day. She later added, “In my perfect world, it would be 250.” 

The administration has taken several steps to solve the parking problems including numbering every parking space and assigning spaces to drivers. They moved faculty parking up to the lot adjacent to the Doug White field. In addition, Hunter made arrangements with the Beede Center to use spots in its parking lot, but has recently received complaints. She suspects some students, not authorized by the school, are using family parking passes to gain access to the lot and is working on a resolution with the Beede administration. 

Juniors who drive to school arrive very early to park along the side of the access road. In the past, students without parking permits also parked on nearby sidestreets but the Concord Police have been issuing tickets. 

RSC member Mary Storrs noted that there is an alternative view to increasing parking, saying that some believe no additional spots should be added; instead students should take the bus rather than drive. Another suggestion was to encourage carpooling. RSC member Joanna Boynton pointed out that there are several reasons why students are not able to take the bus, including jobs and sports such as hockey that has early morning off-site practices. 

RSC member Heather Bout stressed that Hunter and Principal Mike Mastrullo are spending too much time on parking problems. Hunter agreed, saying, “The negative feelings this is breeding is just not productive.”

A Campus Advisory Committee,  formed in the fall, has been tasked with recommending possible uses for the former student parking lot, an area of contaminated land built over an old landfill that is in the process of being remediated. There are limitations on what can be built in that space, but parking with a permeable surface such as gravel or a certain type of asphalt could be an option. The committee is expected to make a recommendation in May. 

$1M sought for facilities improvements

The administration and RSC have an Article on Concord and Carlisle’s Warrants to borrow up to $1 million to cover costs for lighting, paving and other improvements to the CCHS facility. Deputy Superintendent John Flaherty later explained that, if the funds are approved at Town Meeting, they will not neccessarily borrow all or any of the money but the Article provides access to funds for school improvement projects when needed without further approval from the towns. 

Bout wondered if there is a way to add some parking without asking the towns for $1 million. RSC Chair Dan Conti agreed that he is concerned about bringing another Warrant Article to Town Meeting, but said, “let people have their say. Voters can decide if they want to spend more money on the school or not.” ∆