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Council Delays Action on Proposed BOE Takeover of Heermance Pl.

School district wants to kick students off public street to accommodate for teachers and staff

A member short, the village council held off on deciding whether to grant the school board the ability to , a public street, in favor of teachers. The school district on Wednesday night presented statistics affirming why it believes the council should cede partial control of the street.

According to Superintendent Daniel Fishbein, a total of 215 teachers, staff and secretaries (not including cafeteria or custodial staff) . Because of an increase in school population over the years and a need to bring more staff for classified students, the staff size has grown larger, Fishbein wrote in a letter to Village Manager Ken Gabbert.

The district is seeking 12 spots on the Heermance, a small street sandwiched between the high school and its football field. The board would issue permits to teachers and staff at no cost – in what Village Attorney Matt Rogers called a "hybrid situation." The district, which is not required to provide on-site parking to its staff, would seek to tow students who park without a permit.

Restricting Heermance Place by permit would "reduce the competitiveness" among high school staff, Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser said. Although absences due to illness reduce the pool, Fishbein remarked that many staff park in "non-spots" in the high school lot. He could not venture a guess as to how many that figure was.

Because students currently are not allowed to park in the high school lot, the 23 Heermance Place spots are especially prized. If they don't make it early enough (5:45 a.m. according to some students), high schoolers must prepare for a trek from Graydon South, or a $500 annual payment at , which holds 70 spots for students.

Although the council said little when presented with data from Fishbein, Deputy Mayor Tom Riche seemed apprehensive with the proposal.

"I've got some reservations about this," he said, pointing specifically to the statement that students would be towed, as well as parallels to Title 39 (police enforcing private lots).

Resident Boyd Loving, who noted that similar parking proposals at other schools expired from the village code in 1989, said he had no reservations – in his view, the proposal is an awful plan. 

"I don't know why the board thinks that their staff and faculty should trump students with respect to on-street parking," Loving said. "It doesn't make any sense to me – it should be first come, first serve. Period, the end."

The S. Irving St. resident said given how there's nowhere to park on any of the street surrounding Ridgewood High School, those spots on Heermance may be used by residents and caretakers in the neighborhood.

"Still a lot of unanswered questions here," Loving said in summation, pointing to Fishbein "not answering" a question on if the district has approached First Presbyterian to reconfigure its parking lot. 

"Why people who may live from out of town would get preferential parking over people who pay taxes in town is something I'd like the council to consider," he said.

The council, due to the absence of Bernadette Walsh and the lack of public comment stemming from school vacation, will discuss the matter further at its next work session. It will make a vote at the following public meeting.

[Correction: Resident Boyd Loving was identified as living on North Irving Street; he lives on South Irving Street. The error has been corrected.]

Winnie Dunn February 24, 2012 at 02:42 PM
That's ridiculous! I guess the District thinks the students have enough parking options? The teachers parking rights are more important the the taxpayers? I am happy to say that after 8 years of dealing with how my three children are going to get to and from the High School, I no longer have to worry. They have all long graduated. Maybe, if the district would cut down on the amount of students who are registered in the school but don't live in Ridgewood, they would save enough money to provide bus service to those who live too far to walk. Do we really need to give the Village another excuse to issue more parking/towing tickets? Aren't we all fed up with that? Don't our children have the right to park at their own school?... especially if they are willing to get there so early to so so? The teachers want the spots, let them get there first!
Dominick Nizza February 24, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Let's put some income parking meters on public street locations here and at other nearby streets. Post times and other information.
JV February 24, 2012 at 09:28 PM
What is the source of your anger and hostility? The article suggests that some students arrive before 6 a.m. to get a parking spot. How you might react if it were suggested to you that you leave your home, perhaps up to an hour's drive away, at 5 a.m. each day so you could get a parking spot at your workplace? The issue of non-residents in our schools comes up often, and every time the district investigates, it is shown that this is a non-issue. But I suspect that someone who chooses not to want to hear or know anything other than the "right" things, will never be convinced. When did parking become a "right" for students? What do students do when they leave for colleges where they are not allowed cars on campus? Do they have their parents call to protest an abridgement of rights? Perhaps the district ought not be allowed the spots, but the comments about non-residents and student rights and taxpayer priorities don't seem to be a strong basis for refusing the request. The school has been where it is for a very long time. No one can seriously claim hardship for having to get there. And when did the district stop busing students who live too far to walk? I often have to slow my own commute each morning in order to wait for a bus picking up students. There will seemingly be many conversations about this, because nothing around here gets done without lots of input, but I hope that calm reflection and reasoned assessment will be the standard that drives the ultimate decision.
Bill Connor February 25, 2012 at 11:26 PM
No meters on Private residential non commercial blocks.

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