Students and Admin Present Parking Possibilities

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Students and Admin Present Parking Possibilities

cars parked in close-quarters due to the lack of spots

cars parked in close-quarters due to the lack of spots

Photo By: William Lambert

cars parked in close-quarters due to the lack of spots

Photo By: William Lambert

Photo By: William Lambert

cars parked in close-quarters due to the lack of spots

William Peritz, News Editor

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Parking has been a source of frustration and mild inconvenience for several juniors and seniors that are allowed to drive their cars to school. It can be a challenge to secure a parking pass for yourself, due to the relatively low number of spots available. Once a spot is obtained, it can also be difficult to find a desirable spot each morning. Moreover, the parking lot has a hard time handling the massive influx of people every day before and after school hours, as it only has one entrance and one exit.

One source of conflict noted by students, including senior Kayleigh Jumper, is the fact that the entire parking lot is funneled through one exit. By 3:55 every weekday afternoon, the parking lot will be crowded with stationary cars, making entering or exiting the school very difficult.

According to Jumper, a possible fix to this problem could be to pave a new exit from the parking lot to the road in front of Western, “My biggest suggestion would be to open a separate exit for the buses, or maybe two entrance ways.”

While this is both a valid and popular idea, assistant principal Tim Driver explains that is is more complicated than it seems. “An alternate exit would have to be on county land. We don’t own [a lot of] the land between us and that road. The county would have to purchase someone else’s property to put a road leading out to the highway.”
Attempts to purchase private land would not be easy, as neither Mr. Bonham nor any WAHS administrator has the authority to do it.
Assuming that it happened, the process would take quite a while and would probably not be worth the trouble and expense.

The more pressing issue with the Western parking system is that there are simply not enough spots for everyone that wants one, and it is actually getting worse each year.
As Driver explains, “We’ve actually decreased parking spots here with the new construction outback; we’ve had to move 30 staff spots from the back to the front, and lost 30 spots for seniors because of that.”

A situation like this creates a ripple effect. When the staff spots in the back are reduced, senior spots are taken to compensate. Since Western hasn’t built another parking lot with the construction, there are 30 fewer senior spots than there used to be. However, since seniors are allowed to park anywhere but juniors are prohibited from parking in the senior spots, juniors are the group who ultimately draw the short straw. Senior cars overflow into the unmarked areas, pushing juniors out.

Proof can be seen in the parking pass distribution numbers for the 2018-19 school year. Excluding the upper lot, there are 114 spots are reserved for staff, 135 for seniors, and 157 unmarked.
The unmarked spots are given first to seniors during their exclusive two-week sign-up window, and the leftover are given to juniors.
To try to combat the issue this year, administration opened the upper lot and its 38 parking spots for juniors on the waitlist, or those who otherwise were not able to secure a lower lot pass. It sold out within an hour.

However, a different, more permanent solution may the on the horizon. “We have inquired about having another parking lot for students,” Driver says. “We proposed that question to the county. They haven’t made a decision yet, but we are showing them that we have a need because our school has grown in size, and we have not increased parking spots.”
Future grades are projected to be even larger than the current senior and junior classes, meaning this could be an even bigger struggle for them. According to Driver, the estimate for the proposed new lot that administration requested was “about $300,000. That would add another 100 spots.”

The idea of building a new parking lot has been on students’ mind as well. Senior Jack Emery agrees that the biggest problem with parking at WAHS is the lack of space: “We don’t have enough parking spots, it’s too congested.”

While a new lot would certainly be helpful to the situation, county approval for any project of that scale could take quite a while. Throughout the process, students can rest assured that WAHS administration is on their side. Since the issue of parking is not one that is not limited only to students, its resolution would be a relief to most.
Driver concludes, “Mr. Bonham has met with people who [are in charge of] this and shared his concerns. It is a concern for all of us, we want people to be able to park here.” He adds with a laugh, “I want to be able to park here!”

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