Central Parking Palooza

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Central has way more seniors than parking spots. What happens to those who don’t get a spot?


Despite careful configuration of parking spots, over 300 Hunterdon Central seniors did not receive parking spots this year. This forces many seniors to find alternate parking arrangements in locations such as stores or private houses.

 

The most popular spot for students who don’t have parking spots is Walmart. Front-end Walmart manager Anthony Siniscalco doesn’t mind people parking in the Walmart parking lot because he used to actually do it himself, but he was one of the respectful ones. “As long as people don’t cause trouble or stop us from doing our jobs we typically won’t report it even though we’re supposed to,” he said. According to Walmart, they have the legal right to be able to tow anyone who leaves an idle car without being a customer because it is considered loitering. People are allowed to park there for 24 hours IF they purchase something.

Every year, the senior class exceeds the number of parking spots that are provided across campus. This year there are over 300 students who were not given a parking spot and this is a huge issue among students. Teens at HCRHS should not be declined a spot if they spent the first three years of high school working hard and something should be done to get them a place to park.

Hunterdon Central uses the tier system to determine which students get parking spots. Essentially, rising seniors who have never received an infraction (such as a detention) are placed in Tier One, students with minor infractions are placed in Tier Two, and students who have made major infractions are placed in Tier Three. Students in Tier One—as a reward of sorts for their hard work and good behavior—are placed in a pool. Administrators use the lottery system to choose spots for students in Tier One, and once all Tier One students have received spots, administrators move on to students in Tier Two, and so on, until all student spots have been filled.

 

One alternative system Central has considered is a parking-per-semester system, in which students would be chosen via a lottery for a single semester of parking, and then students who didn’t receive spots would be first to receive spots for the other semester. Trevor Swanton was a junior at HCRHS before he graduated early and moved forward with his education. He is not happy with how the school has been choosing the students who receive parking spots. “I think that the students who are in Tier One would say no to this [parking per semester] but only because they know that they are guaranteed a spot right now,” he said. “Students who are in the other tiers would want more of a chance to get a spot and this system would benefit them.”

The Hunterdon Central administration is not ignorant to the problem. Mr. Estrada, the vice principal for the senior class—and person in charge of parking—has considered various solutions to the situation.  “Over the years we found ways to add 5, add 10, add 20,” he said. “We found a balance where there are enough spots for students and staff.” One of the biggest obstacles with providing enough parking spaces is that Central can’t do a lot to add more with the space it has. Mr. Estrada has talked about considerations with building a parking garage or a new lot, but has said that the cost would be “astronomical” and that whatever they charge the students wouldn’t cover the cost.

Mr. Estrada is also aware of the off-campus options that students have. Local residences nearby the school have cooperated with kids and have allowed them to park there, as well as businesses. Mr. Estrada has relied on the feedback of students when it comes to where they are allowed to park off campus and usually the response is that some businesses have cooperated and allowed to students to park on their property.

Principal Suzanne Cooley understands why some students park off-campus. “I’m not opposed to it,” she said. “If we had the space, [on-campus parking] would be the safest scenario.” While she is in support of any senior who wants to drive being able to drive, there is not much that the school administration can do to expand parking, due to space limitations.

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Central Parking Palooza