SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Fielding questions and concerns from residents, the Scotch Plains Township Council met Tuesday night to discuss solutions for a parking issue at Park Middle School.
Mayor Kevin Glover and council members invited Superintendent of Scotch Plains-Fanwood Public Schools Dr. Margaret Hayes and Business Administrator Deborah Saridaki to help explain the current predicament after plans for a parking lot had been misconstrued by the public through social media (according to Dr. Hayes).
“Number one, we are not jettisoning the entire field,” Hayes said. “We are not disbanding any part of the playground.”
According to Hayes, the Board of Education asked several years ago if staff could begin a trial period of permit parking through shared services, but received negative feedback. Board members were then encouraged to work within their own resources and find a solution on school property.
The plans for upwards of 61 parking spaces, which the Board of Education allocated $100,000 for an engineer to complete, estimate the final parking lot project to cost $600,000.
The suggestion by Councilwoman Rose Checchio to park with permission at St. Bartholomew’s Parish and local churches was considered a non-option by board representatives as the walking distance is over a half mile. A suggestion of a jitney service to shuttle teachers to the school was deemed ineffective by Councilman Jones as it would cost more than a half million dollars over a certain amount of years.
“We have to think outside the box,” Mayor Glover said. “This is clearly a need. We could park these cars on the street, which could be a half mile away depending on the street, or we need to find an alternative solution. Everything needs to be put on the table.”
“If you put permit parking there, so that teachers arrive first and they take those parking spaces, that’s going to push parents out further,” Hayes responded. “Though it sounds like it could be an easy fix, one fix creates another problem. The last thing we want to do is take away fields.”
The overall consensus by the board that a parking lot was not the best solution led to Hayes and Saridaki agreeing to meet with shared services on Wednesday, May 4.