On the proposed budget for the Chatham School District there is a line item that allocates $400,000 for construction of a parking lot for additional spaces on the open gym fields adjacent to the high school.
These spaces would give each anticipated future high school senior a space to park his/her car at the High School. The justification for this item is that it is unsafe for seniors to park their cars in the Colony Pool lot and walk to the high school.
This lot is 0.2 miles from the high school and takes about 6 minutes to walk to and from. There is no sidewalk from the parking lot to the corner of Floral Street which is about 300ft. However, most of the Township has no sidewalks, notably Longwood Avenue, Dellwood Avenue, and Fairview, which are used by high school students every school day and on which seniors now drive their cars to and from school.
There are less costly solutions to this supposed safety issue such as building a sidewalk, which would cost less than $15,000, or putting up signage to reduce and maintain a traffic flow which would be safer for the walking students. The real reason for this parking lot is that seniors have the option of going off campus during their lunch and study hall periods and it is easier for each of them to have their own car at the high school.
Seniors currently have to share parking spaces and thus car pool when they drive. Existing spaces could also accommodate future students by allocating them in a specified format (lottery or specification of shorter time period for each student to have access to a space).
Why must the district spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to accommodate every senior in the school? Why must the district put asphalt on green field space surrounding the high school, which is used for all physical education class, to accommodate seniors?
The current situation at the high school when school begins and ends is unsafe. There is no management or control of the existing traffic. Now add more cars driven by teenagers into this situation.
In these difficult financial times why is the district spending funds that benefit a small portion of the school population and which will add maintenance costs in the future.
Couldn’t we spend this money to cut our maintenance costs by adopting energy saving measures?
Unfortunately, the proposed budget was approved with this line item in it which was not discussed with the taxpaying public prior to its inclusion in the budget. Additionally the high school’s adjoining neighbors were not notified of this item’s inclusion in the budget which the superintendent’s office two years earlier indicated it would do.
Therefore, I am voting NO for the school budget and I believe that all concerned residents of Chatham should do the same.