Parking problem is a safety problem
October 1, 2009
After watching the school board react promptly to the outcry over the president’s speech being blocked, I asked myself, why can’t they react promptly to what has been an issue at the Basalt elementary and middle schools for more than seven years?
The parking situation is awful. Between the two schools, there are 1,087 students and 128 staff (per http://www.rfsd.org) for a total of 1,215 people. I recently counted legal parking spaces. Between the two schools’ main parking lots and the lot below Basalt Elementary, there are a total of 112 spots, plus five disabled spaces, for a total of 117 legal parking spaces. Not quite 10 percent of the school population, and not even enough for the staff members. No wonder there is a problem.
At 12:30 p.m. there were approximately seven open spaces between the two schools. For anyone who doesn’t know what a problem there is, I invite you to join us at 8 a.m. or 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, to experience for yourself the dangerous situation. I have asked for many years why something isn’t being done. The answers have basically ranged from “we’re looking for land for a bus barn” to “there just isn’t any land available.”
I understand the lack of affordable land; however, I believe we have a lot of talented, smart people who could help resolve the problem if they really tried. There is room at the elementary school to reconfigure the lot and add more parking, but then comes the grumbling of cost, no money, etc. What is our children’s safety worth? How can you afford to not do something? I understand that a bus barn somewhere off site would be the gold-standard solution. But right now we need a Band-Aid solution – something immediate to help the situation now.
And before anyone says that the solution is that all students should take the bus and then there wouldn’t be a parking issue, the buses are overcrowded as it is and would not be able to handle extra kids. This is not a letter about buses so I won’t go into the various reasons many families choose not to use the buses.
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There are also events that take place after hours at the schools. School plays, school concerts, athletics and more. At any one of these events, the lots are overflowing, and people park illegally and unsafely. Buses aren’t available for special events so the buses are really not the issue. The bottom line is: The parking is a problem and the safety of the kids is a problem, and the school board needs to address it now.