Gravel lot offers more parking

Junior+Avery+Gathercole+walks+back+to+her+car+in+the+high+school%27s+new+gravel+parking+lot.+%22I+like+it+so+much+better+than+the+side+road%2C%22+said+Gathercole.+%22It+never+fills+up+which+is+super+convenient+for+when+I+get+here+later+in+the+morning.%22

Ahmad Smith

Junior Avery Gathercole walks back to her car in the high school’s new gravel parking lot. “I like it so much better than the side road,” said Gathercole. “It never fills up which is super convenient for when I get here later in the morning.”

Matthew Berry, Staff Writer

After the overflow of requests last year for parking tags, school administration was faced with a dilemma. Excluding freshmen there were 200 more applications than spots available. Even with 119 off-campus spots, there was still some 81 spots needed. Because of that the gravel lot was built, adding 60-70 more spots. Associate principal Jerry  Stratton now believes that the district is significantly closer with the gravel lot built. “Once you add in the five percent absentee rate, we are much closer to accommodating the needs of our students,” Stratton said.

Over the summer a gravel parking lot was built behind the middle school to accommodate for an overflow of parking requests. Stratton said with some 70 gravel parking tags available and the opening of Northwest 59th Ct. on both sides, the amount of spots needed is close to being adequate with what the districts needs. This decision was met with little criticism and seems to be liked by both administrators and students.

In terms of how those are picked, Stratton follows the criteria set by the school board. Those who applied last spring have priority over who applied this fall. Stratton went on to say that once those kids have had the opportunity to get their gravel tag, he would offer it to more people and continue the process until no more passes are possible. “I want both lots being used, as long as there are open spots, I will offer them to more people,” Stratton said. Stratton is referring to the few spots still open at the tennis courts which fall under the regular lot.

For some students the gravel lot was a second chance to get a spot on campus. Junior Kara Gerke is one of them. “I had been accepted for a regular lot tag, but I did not realize that there was  deadline to pick it up,” Gerke said. With that, she reached out to Stratton who then offered her a gravel tag.

Despite preferring a regular tag, Gerke seems happy with what she has. “A lot of people think [the gravel lot] is stupid, but I like it,” she said. She notices less cars than the regular lot as a huge advantage. “It’s not near as much chaos, it’s really easy to get in and out of,” Gerke said.

Having less traffic seems to also be a selling point that Stratton uses. “At the end of the day, do I want to face 700 people leaving all at once, or 60?” Stratton said.

Even with the advantages, not everyone is keen on taking a gravel lot tag. Senior Andrew Ballesteros was offered a gravel tag but declined it due to the $20 price, which is the same price as the regular lot. Ballesteros said that its location is next to the side street, which is free. Because of that Ballesteros plans to find different options. “I talked to my friend about driving to his house, who has a tag,” Ballesteros said. He also plans to simply park on the side street. “Both of these seem more money efficient,” Ballesteros said.

The cost problem did not seem to play a role on Gerke’s decision. “Maybe if it was five dollars less it would be more fair, but still, having a spot is worth it,” Gerke said.

Despite having the regular lot and the gravel lot being equally priced, Stratton said the $20 is reasonable. “Is it gravel? Yes. But it’s a safe place to park, and you’re still parked on campus,” Stratton said.

The gravel lot does come with one condition, both kinds of tags are only valid with its respective lot. “People with gravel tags can only park in the gravel lot, and no one else,” Stratton said. He would go onto say that this goes both ways. “I don’t want people from the regular parking lot parking there,” Stratton said.