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Panic! At The Parking Lot

The back parking lot is a problem. It’s an awkward island of blacktop jutting out into the grassy backyard of CB that was never intended to be a lot. It was originally a spot for portable classrooms before the STEM wing was built. Then it was renovated into a few tennis courts before its current iteration as […]

The back parking lot is a problem.

It’s an awkward island of blacktop jutting out into the grassy backyard of CB that was never intended to be a lot. It was originally a spot for portable classrooms before the STEM wing was built. Then it was renovated into a few tennis courts before its current iteration as a parking lot.

And now it’s problematic for an entirely new reason — it’s right smack dab in the center of planned construction. But this time the parking lot isn’t being converted into anything new — it’s at its final stage of life. The loss of back parking would be a disaster for everyone.

Insert a new parking lot.

The new parking lot is going to be built on a vacant parcel of land behind our neighboring Williams Memorial Church of God In Christ. This land was recently bought by CB in a deal with the church for a twenty year lease to develop the area. The administration just submitted permits for their parking lot design that have to be to approved by the city and go through an environmental impact study before any ground is broken. The parking lot is estimated to carry a price tag of $500,000 for construction and $800,000 all-together after accounting for street improvements. It is expected to be finished sometime in 2020.

Prior to the announcement of the parking lot location, many speculated that CB was acquiring land across M.L.K. Blvd for a lot. And that was the plan for a while until the administration ran into some trouble. Director of Advancement Mrs. Nancy Smith-Fagan  explained that the original plans for a parking lot across the street were scrapped for five main reasons. 

  1. Money: It was too expensive. In plans sent to the city, the parking lot across the street was projected to be twice as expensive as the parking behind William Memorial.
  2. Safety: Students crossing the street en masse would be a cause for concern for student safety.
  3. Permitting difficulties: CB doesn’t own all the land across the street. One homeowner would not take an offer from CB for their property, complicating the permitting process.
  4. More permitting: The design for a lot across the street would have gone through an alley. That equals more permitting complexities.
  5. And more money: The school would possibly have to pay to have a traffic light installed if the city required them to do so after the permit had been processed. Do you know how much one of those cost???

Eventually, CB just said heck with it and found alternative options. As Mrs. Smith-Fagan says, the school decided against the lot across the street because the new project will be “done faster, less expensively, and safer”.

The parking lot is actually part of CB’s Securing the Future Campaign. What is the Securing the Future Campaign you ask? Well, I welcome you to click THIS hyperlink and read my other article about the campaign. I’ll wait…

 

Okay, but if you aren’t going to read that article, here is a quick summary of the plan: the Securing the Future Campaign is a $12 million capital campaign that will include athletic facility renovations. Our 40 year old track and field will be replaced with a six-lane track, a turf football field, permanent field lighting, new bleachers, and a press box. Many other improvements will be made around campus, but these are the ones that pertain to the existence of parking infrastructure.

The new lot is expected to net more spots for students. Bam! All of our problems are fixed! New track and field. New parking lot. Everyone is happy.

But the new lot has its potential problems. The new lot is an extension of our main parking lot. In the past, the back parking lot had its own exit out the northern gates. But with it gone, now all of the traffic will potentially bottleneck out of the main lot. Mrs. Smith-Fagan said the school had a traffic study conducted that “didn’t come up with any conclusions” about the impact the new parking lot would have on traffic.

Whether the parking lot turns out to be terrific or terrible, the project is part of a larger plan to change our campus. But don’t worry — some things will never change. People will still drive the wrong direction, parent drivers will still be causing traffic, and people will still obnoxiously blast their music after school.

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