Put up a Parking Lot

Pave Paradise

December, 19, 2008 , by Peter Eichenberger

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Part 23 Glenwood South Small Area Plan Objectives (in part):

Address parking needs by minimizing the loss of existing building, discouraging large surface parking lots and exploring multi-use parking opportunities.

Provide various forms of transportation to support a compact form of development. The area’s transportation system should focus upon the development of a successful pedestrian and transit system to serve the area in addition to the automobile.

Yada yada yada. A fine example of how Raleigh’s various comprehensive plan/s fare is seen in City Council’s vote approving the paving of Needham Broughton High School’s front lawn in light of the above text. With an all-too familiar lack of imagination, aesthetics, history, safety and disregard for it’s own procedures City Council, in a seven to one vote (Thomas Crowder being the only renegade), sent a message about its fealty to the internal combustion engine and how easily cowed it apparently can be by a gaggle of self-indulgent youngsters staging a sit-in on the front lawn – sitting in Daddy’s cars. Oh the conviction and principles of these brave youngsters!

The most gnawing and under-discussed aspect to the entire charade was neatly summed up during a talk with a Broughton neighbor one pleasant afternoon after the presentation of the new Comprehensive Plan. Dave Colwell is a twenty year Raleighite, at the current address for five, the very model of the sort of citizen the hooplah is directed toward when the babblicious myth of “citizen involvement” is rolled out. At his modest Peace Street home, Colwell talked about his involvement from the very beginning of the public input period, when the Raleigh Historic District Commission sent out notices of a meeting in March. He became involved in the discourse over the gamut of the issues, some
of them of more importance than the school’s face shot.

“I was concerned about the traffic flow on Peace Street and the proximity to the neighborhood and to the Raleigh Apartments. My concern is how the traffic will circulate through the proposed parking lot onto Peace Street with the egress now proposed,” he said right off, something I hadn’t thought of, odd, considering I have been in one crash via a dumb driver right there.

“I spoke with a couple of neighbors who expressed concerns about where the exits would be from the proposed parking lot,” Colwell continued. “There were a lot of architectural concerns as can be documented from other meetings but my concerns were primarily for safety. I live on this street and have concerns about the amount of traffic on this road and the number of accidents,” Dave said, as we spoke in his front room, traffic whizzing by.

“There are many accidents, especially in the mornings and the afternoons. Trying to drive anywhere around the campus is very, very risky. I’ve seen students come up Smallwood the wrong way.” At the Raleigh Historic District Commission, there was only a vague plan and as Colwell put it, “a lot of verbiage.”

“Throughout the meeting, the school representatives and the site planner were there, making a presentation that showed the only curb-cut on Peace Street to be down by Saint Mary’s. At the time, it was shown to a one way in, one way out – right turn only, close to the intersection. At the meeting, it was stated that this was not acceptable by the Department of Transportation and that it had to be moved farther west on Peace Street, to come out near the Raleigh Apartments. At that point, my concern was seeing as how there are a lot of accidents on this road, why introduce another variable of cars
trying to cross center lane turning traffic?”

Colwell’s other point is that there was no attempt to develop a plan according to the dictates of the public notification system in place.

“They didn’t proceed with this correctly. It was September before the Planning Commission reviewed the plan, including Wake County School System’s plan. The Raleigh Historic Commission’s approval had expired. I voiced to them that there was no revised proposed plan sent to the homeowners. The plan was revised during the approval meeting. I objected to that. I said we had to have a proposed plan. They didn’t care. They approved it anyway.”

Dave was puzzled and nearly indignant about the lack of foresight and
imagination about the stealth plan.

“The parking lot, as designed, has many turns. The only ingress is off of Saint Mary’s street, which is a mess. The only way out is through a labyrinth of cars. It’s a curvilinear parking lot. This project has not been well thought-out. There are a lot of resources we have here within walking distance, the College of Design. This could be some sort of design project. Possibly there could be program where the highest 100 GPA could get to park. Something can be thought through. We live in an urban environment.”

We talked about the effect on the parking situation in Cameron Park, where presumably some of the impetus for the lot may have emerged.

“Students will continue to park in the neighborhood. They are going to continue to park there and cross the street right at the intersection, where this proposed now-two way turn out of the parking lot expansion is, across the center turning lane where cars are already coming flying down Peace Street going downtown.”

I pointed out that during a recent City Council meeting, to forestall possible west-bound congestion at the proposed Morgan Street roundabout, there was a suggestion to direct traffic right on Saint Mary’s street and left, westbound onto Peace at Broughton, adding yet another variable into the stew. Colwell just shook his head.

“Why do we have a planning commission? The City Council approved it anyway. Why do we have this process? Why do we have Mitch Silver and everybody underneath and why do we have citizen volunteers who take the time to consider and make recommendation’s that are going to be disregarded by the City Council? “What did they approve?” asks Colwell. “Every step of the process has to be approved by the homeowners. They don’t know what has been approved. Neither does the City Council or anybody. They’re probably drawing something right now.”

In this newly-minted millennium, many cities are developing and reengaging alternatives to the US’s vulnerable, obsolete and destructive transportation system, based on the petroleum powered automobile. Not our little Raleigh where nostalgia for the sixties lives on with laughably inadequate mass transit, national standing for bad air and roads, roads, roads.

Crowder was spot-on when he spoke, before the vote, on the importance of open space, a diminishing factor as Raleigh becomes a more crowded, urban environment. Besides the value of a walking space, a place to feel the earth under one’s feet, there is psychological value to the randomness of the living world, even a tended lawn. With the steady increase of the hard-angled gray of the synthetic world, as well as the ubiquitous vistas consisting of parked automobiles, there is intangible, intrinsic worth to the non man-made, even if one is not aware of it and disparages the very concept.

There is a world beyond video games, television and the myriad petro-gick used in automotive systems, where the point-source runoff will get dumped, in the case of Broughton, into Pigeon House creek, in turn runs into Crabtree and eventually the Neuse river, where it will become our downstream neighbors’ problem.

The world is changing. With the latest hiccup in fuel prices coupled with all the “green” talk (just another fad, I ’ spose), seems the schools would be an appropriate venue to begin to launch a dialog and begin to test practical alternatives to the same old.  It wasn’t that long ago those students, by necessity, used their brains and their bodies to get around, walking, riding bicycles. The indulgent times we have created have instilled an expectation of the car, and in the case of a status-oriented school like Broughton, not just any old car.

Fulfillment of this expectation puts financial demands on families and the infrastructure. Lifestyles nurture habits. In the case of the de rigueur automobile, there comes a dependency on the car. Habits begun early can pay dividends later in one’s life. It wouldn’t seem that difficult to arrange the right sort of incentive to encourage high schoolers to use some other form of transportation. Face it, most folks could use the exercise.








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  • Betsy
    12/19 04:30 PM

    The whole problem could be solved if the school system would charge each “parker” exactly the entire cost of providing the parking space.  Each one costs thousands of dollars per year in capital and maintenance costs, using standard estimates.

    It is ridiculous to install taxpayer-subsidized parking spaces so that high school kids can bring a 6 x 15 object with them to school and store it, useless and immobilized, for seven hours on public property, in an area that is among the most abundantly served by sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transit of any place in the entire state.

  • JDawg
    12/19 05:09 PM

    Amen Betsy, and you too Eich.

  • JDawg
    12/19 05:14 PM

    Sorry, hit submit too soon.

    Gas cannot get to $5 gallon fast enough to cure this problem.  I’ve always regarded the front lawn and facade of Broughton as one of the icons of our fare City.  I was really very pleased when they recently cleared it of the eye-sore “temporary” classroom trailers that had persisted way too long.  Now they want to pave it so the spolied brats can each continue to drive their daddy-bought-me Tahoes to school.  The idiocy makes my head hurt!

  • Matthew Brown
    12/19 06:07 PM

    Amen, Peter, and Betsy is so right. Furthermore, now that Broughton has lost its magnet program, and therefore will have fewer students commuting from far away, shouldn’t the school revisit this issue?

    I know a Broughton student who claims to leave an hour early for school to get a parking place. And yet he could get there in fifteen minutes if he rode his bicycle! I know this because I used to ride my bike to teach there, and this student is my next-door neighbor!

  • ct
    12/19 06:55 PM

    This problem with parking at Broughton has been brewing for a long time. The best option is probably to close the school altogether and replace it with a new building out in the burbs where most high schoolers actually live.

    But if WCPSS doesn’t have the funding for that, parking is an inevitability. There just aren’t enough kids within walking or biking distance from Broughton to fully utilize the school. Yes, a student can bike to school from a long distance; one of my sons rode his bike occasionally from way north Raleigh to Enloe, but there aren’t many kids willing or able to do that—and he certainly couldn’t have done it every day. And with the insane 7:30 am start times in WCPSS high schools, relying on the WCPSS bus means getting to the bus stop between 6 and 6:30 am for kids outside the Beltline.

    Given the inevitability of parking, WCPSS should simply have bought some properties adjacent to Broughton, razed them, and paved a new parking lot. I agree with Crowder that the current parking lot design sounds awful.

  • Micah
    12/19 09:44 PM

    I think they should start by using those 6 tennis courts as parking.  All they would have to do is put a thin layer of asphalt there and paint some stripes.  Tennis courts take up too much room for there to be six of them at a downtown High School.

  • Enigma
    12/19 10:02 PM

    Put the portables back where they were for years (front lawn) and let the students park where they did before (where the portables are now).  Problem solved.

  • Richard Johnson
    12/19 11:43 PM

    I does seem that if we are going to start moving away from designing everything around cars, that government funded parking spaces for teenage kids would be a great place to start.

  • Jim
    12/20 01:21 AM

    If where you went to school was a choice, like where you work or live is,  I’d but as upset as others that they are going to build a huge lot in this area. 

    But realistically (in light of the ongoing parking problems at Broughton), you can’t force someone to go to school across town and in the same breath deny them the use of the (like it or not) primary mode of transportation in the area. 

    If neighborhood schools were demographically feasible, we could have students walking, biking, and taking the CAT to school.  We should work towards it, but it is not an option now.  All we can do is look forward to when they tear up the parking lot due to lack of use.

  • Ben
    12/20 01:23 AM

    they need to take the big yellow taxi instead

  • julianenglish
    12/20 06:06 AM

    Well said, Betsy.

  • Isaac
    12/20 09:37 AM

    You know, I grew up about 60 miles east of Raleigh, so I had never even heard about the parking problems with schools around here until a couple of months ago. That being said, I do find it hard to believe that people are calling kids “spoiled” for wanting to drive their cars to school. I would think EVERY kid, no matter what their background is, wants to drive their car everywhere they go.
    JDawg, is gas hitting $5 gonna help everyone that has lost work over the past couple of months find jobs?
    I consider myself a bleeding heart liberal, but some of you people need to get a grip on reality,  and stop crying over a patch of grass being ruined by teenage “consumers”.

  • corey3rd
    12/20 12:33 PM

    remember that we’re not merely talking any sort of normal traffic accident chances, but teenage kids behind the wheel. And they love to Text message while driving.

    If a store in Cameron Village wants to make quick cash, they should stock body bags and roadside memorials.

  • Isaac
    12/20 01:13 PM

    Damn kids and their cellyphones and rock n roll music!

  • ct
    12/20 06:25 PM

    The Enloe bus came for my kid at 6:01 am on the dot. If he had gone to Broughton, the time would have been the same. Not many teenagers are keen to get up at 5:30. So, as soon as they can ride with another student in a car, they do. Many of them are responsible and carpool, but even the carpoolers have to park somewhere.

  • Isaac
    12/21 05:26 PM

    Also, could someone please explain to me how all these kids in cars are going to lead to more body bags, but 100+ more bikes zipping across Peace St. sounds hunky-dory?

  • highjoeltage
    12/22 11:50 AM

    Limited parking = more bikes and public transport = more exercise = less environmental impact = less money spent hmmm sounds like win win to me

  • Adrian Hands
    12/22 12:32 PM

    > Also, could someone please explain to me how all
    > these kids in cars are going to lead to more body
    > bags, but 100+ more bikes zipping across Peace St.
    > sounds hunky-dory?

    Quite simply:
    Cars kill
    Bikes do not

    Have you ever heard of a cyclist killed in a crash that did not involve a car?  When a cyclist dies around here, it is news.  Motorist fatality?  Not news unless its extraordinarily spectacular.  Bicycling is pretty safe.

  • 150
    12/22 01:05 PM

    Adrian, Isaac does have a point though.  No, maybe bikes don’t kill, but bikes can be the cause of the accident that kills.  Bikes can be a very, very good thing, and it’s better than driving a car, but more students on bikes does have the potential for increased accidents, injuries, and deaths.  It’s a valid concern, and it should be for anyone who will be either biking or driving on Peace and St. Mary’s streets. 
    On topic though, I’m against the parking lot as well.

  • corey3rd
    12/22 01:10 PM

    bikes or cars, today’s teens are mentally damaged lemmings that seem eager to jump off any cliff if there’s a iPhone or PS3 in the water below.

  • Isaac
    12/22 01:25 PM

    “bikes or cars, today’s teens are mentally damaged lemmings that seem eager to jump off any cliff if there’s a iPhone or PS3 in the water below.”

    Yes, how did this generation become so infatuated with consumerism? I remember growing up in the 90s. Everybody was wearing plaid, growing goatees, all listening to Cobain.
    We were individuals, dammit!

  • Isaac
    12/22 01:27 PM

    Also, this is where someone should become nostalgic for dancing the Charleston, and wearing onions on their belt because that was the style in those days. And stop typing so loudly, I’m trying to watch Matlock!!!

  • corey3rd
    12/22 02:13 PM

    Matlock put a lot people to work in NC. Don’t go mouthing off about Andy in this state. Shouldn’t old people be watching MTV nowadays?

    at least we had real bands instead of cover bands to see back in the 90s. We had Nirvana playing at the Cats Cradle instead of another tribute band cluttering up the schedule. These kids get 7 years of America at war and the best they can produce is Fall Out Boy and Kanye West? We had 3 days in Grenada and out came Animotion.

    Anyone feel safe seeing a car full of 17 years olds where the driver is making a left while his thumbs are on his cellphone? Wasn’t it last year where every weekend was another horror story of high schools being dragged out of a burning wreckage. Having once lived across from Broughton on Peace St, the place was already nasty around school hours. Sticking another exit and allowing more cars is just compounding an issue.

    Shouldn’t these kids be home schooled? Mayan Doomsday is only 4 years away? What’s the point of an education when the History Channel has assured us that it’s all coming to an end? Pull the kids out of school and see the world before it self-destructs.

    Realistically they should turn Broughton into a mall/office/condo development and call it “The Connection” since it connects Cameron Village with Glenwood South. More money in that sort of action than education anyway.

  • Jeff
    12/22 02:41 PM

    Isaac,

    The fact that you lived 60 miles east of Raleigh and are using that as your credential to influence downtown policy is a prime example why you should not influence urban policy.

    I am in my late-20’s.  I drove my car to school - but I lived in a town much like 60 miles east of Raleigh would equate to.  But shocker - what works for suburban neighborhoods should not be policy for urban ones. 

    I now live in five points and use St. Mary’s often, by car, bus, foot, and bike.  It is bad, and it is the same old ideas of driving everywhere regardless of my impact that is making this way.

    The parking is only a third of the problem.  Parents lining the street waiting for their kids to get out of school + city traffic + (finally) the kids driving their individual cars to school - all is one major major problem.  4-5 city blocks completely closed down repeatedly throughout the day is a very bad thing. 

    Just to mention the obvious: fire, EMS to the school or house nearby - not to mention the headache this constantly has on the surrounding neighborhood.  If you don’t think it is a problem, don’t plan on doing anything for about an hour and go sit in traffic when the school is getting in during morning rush hour or when they are released.

    For a bleeding heart liberal I fail to see and progressive thoughts being promoted in any of your posts.  Policy set forth by the city council should be in line with their 2030 planning initiative to promote public transit and minimize the impact of people feeling the need to drive their personal vehicle. 

    Spoiled does apply in this situation - but not just by the kids.  Spoiled should be attached to people like you (parents, school administrators, and city officials) that think that we shouldn’t try and address the problem of 4-5 major city blocks coming to a screeching halt throughout the day with something other than the same tired stance of: problem? Lets throw some money at it.  A new parking lot would be nice, and lets go ahead and continue give two craps about our neighborhood impact.

    Promoting another form of transportation or another solution isn’t only responsible for each party; the administration, the city council, the parents and the kids - it should start for the top down and be expected.  The administrators should apply to the parents and kids a better policy than a new shiny parking lot. Because the parking lot - given the responsibility and consideration of their surroundings is kind like uhmmm, spoiled. 

    Going to have to pick up your bleeding heart and do some critical thinking, make some sound decisions, and consider thy fellow man.  Ouch, stings a little doesn’t it? - you know, doing something - or that’s just your heart growing two sizes, Mr. Grinch.

  • Isaac
    12/22 02:56 PM

    Mr. Grinch?!? I’m the one all “The kids are alright”, you’re the one all “brats should get out of my way when I’m trying to get to Foster’s!” Also, I have found in my years of internet-ninjary that nothing “stings”. It boils down to, I don’t know anymore than you on most subjects, and believe it or not, YOU don’t know any more than ME on most subjects. We’re all screaming into the darkness, saying, “LISTEN TO ME, I HAVE THE ANSWERS!!!”
    But, we really don’t know anything about anything. Hell, most of us can’t remember to pick up eggs at the store, let alone figuring out urban policy for a growing city.
    I also think it’s stretching things to call building a parking lot in an area that sorely needs one “throwing money at the problem”.
    And blah blah blah.

  • Isaac
    12/22 02:58 PM

    (shaking fist at kids on his front lawn)

  • Jeff
    12/22 03:20 PM

    Now you are being ridiculous.  The Who never wrote a song called “brats should get out of my way when I’m trying to get to Foster’s!”

    If they would have, it would not have been a hit because Fosters, both of them, sucks.  That, at least hopefully, is something we can all agree on.  Nothing was wrong with the original in Cameron Village - now, neither of them makes any sense.

    The parking lot will only pacify the problem for so long unless other practices are put in place - hence throwing money at the problem.  The infrastructure is available now to not depend on this type of transportation and help resolve this problem - it only needs to be appropriately applied, promoted, and practiced from the top down.

  • Jeff
    12/22 03:23 PM

    (wear tide eye, crying a single tear, holding up a tiny tree in one hand, and a peace sign in the other)

  • Isaac
    12/22 03:25 PM

    First of all…you totally called me out on the song titles thing. I was trying to think of a line or title and nothing was coming to me.
    Second, a parking lot seems like a pretty good problem solver to me right now. They don’t have enough parking = build them a parking lot. Honestly, all joking aside, I think a parking lot is a better solution than saying, “Take the bus!” I’ll let you in on a secret…the bus sucks. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

  • qualine
    12/22 11:18 PM

    It is tie dye.  NOT tide eye.

  • Emily
    12/23 12:19 AM

    Kids drive because the districts are so whacked out that the bus picks you up at 6am.

    ummm- that sucks no matter how old you are. You can’t blame anyone for trying to shave 30 min off that trip.
     
    I went to broughton but lived closer to Leeseville, Athens, and Sanderson.
    That’s crazy-ness.

    Just build the damn thing- it’s an unfortunate part of growth.  But please do make it out of a permeable surface.

  • Arthur!
    12/23 04:16 PM

    I do see alot of them to take the city bus to school.

  • TheCatalyst
    12/23 10:19 PM

    LMAO!!! Go Isaac!!! I didn’t think your mention of living in the country was an attempt at validating any sort of authority…

    First off, with all the self righteous comments I see on here (and some writing) is no one is going to point out all the typos and grammar errors? Come on Eich!

    I know when I was in high school I was paying for my own car and drove across town to WORK after school. I wish everyone would stop glancing at others’ shoes and thinking they know what’s best!

    If one-third of the young adults there rode their bike to school we would have a serious traffic problem of a new kind. We would have tons of commuters idling at the light waiting. (an exaggeration)

    I do think the kids should have to pay for the lot with parking privilege fees. Maybe WCPSS should restrict driving privileges to only those who live more than 15 miles away. Yeah, that’ll happen… a lot of those kids parents pay exorbitant city taxes on over-priced homes inside the belt-line. WAIT! That’s their right! They can spend their money any way they want.

    It is YOUR right to vote those council members out of office. Write them letters letting them know their constituents don’t support them.

  • stefanie
    12/25 06:39 PM

    Has there been any effort to educate students in Raleigh about commuting options available to them?  Perhaps if they were better versed in the CAT and Triangle Transit routes/schedules, bike routes, and carpooling opportunties, then the demand for parking spaces could be lessened.  Carpooling is made easy at gotriangle.org where one can find others in the area traveling to/from locations within close proximity.  (The current focus is on the workforce but this can easily also be used by students, too).  I hope this has been explored by the WCPSS but if not, why not?

  • corey3rd
    12/25 10:19 PM

    While I’m not in favor of putting more student drivers on the road in the Peace Street area, I can assure you that no student who can drive a car wants to ride the CAT bus to school. Why not also suggest these kids get dressed in fashions their parents think are cool? Only one real reason to carpool - to collect enough cash to buy beer and cigarettes without mom knowing.

  • stefanie
    12/27 12:20 AM

    corey3rd:  perhaps you are right but I still think educating students about their options is at least a preliminary alternative to paving a huge span of grass (and thus increasing stormwater runoff in the area) and encouraging more student drivers to drive to school.  Naive of me? Probably.  Awareness never hurts (even if it isn’t cool).

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