Georgia Rosenberg ’19, Staff Writer
The subject of parking is often a stressful one for St. Luke’s students and faculty. With more students attending the school than ever before and a growing faculty, parking spaces on campus are limited and it can often be difficult to find a spot, especially if you arrive late to school or are visiting campus during the day. Ms. Gabriele, the Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations, is taking on the issue and looking at possible solutions to the problem. “This is a great problem to have,” she said, “We are very popular, a lot of people want to come to our school and a lot of people want to work at our school.” She expressed that the problem not only stems from a large population and a lack of outdoor space, but also from the constantly changing social landscape of our time. “Not long ago, kids didn’t have cars, and families didn’t have multiple cars,” she said. “We’ll have faculty members who live close by who also have kids [who attend St. Luke’s] who will drive separately [from their child],” she added.
This is not only an issue that affects students, but also one that largely affects faculty and staff. As the student body grows, it is important to recognize that the staff grows with it. For example, the school used to have a much smaller kitchen staff. “We only had three people who worked in the kitchen, but now we have a much larger staff that comes in to man the kitchen,” Ms. Gabriele noted. The growing staff doesn’t end there; as our facilities grow, there is an increasing need for additional staff members.
“We have barely enough spots for everybody who works here and all seniors,” Ms. Gabriele said. The problem only continues when it comes to visitors on campus during the day. The lack of spots makes it incredibly difficult for parents who are coming in for meetings or volunteer work. “We really love to have parents meet here, we love to have parent volunteers on campus, [but] that’s when you have a problem.”
Ms. Gabriele pointed out that many students will do everything they can to avoid parking in the lower lot by the Art House, even if it means parking on a curb closer to the school when there are still spots available in the lower lot. “That gives the impression that we have a huge parking problem, it feels like it’s a worse problem than it is.”
The parking issue will truly grow next year, when members of the Class of 2018 will be looking for spots to park their cars. Next year’s senior class will have 88 members, 12 more students than this year’s senior class. Though the population of faculty will stay the same, the student population will drastically increase. This makes the parking problem somewhat of a “one year” problem, though it will continue to be an issue for every senior class at SLS.
In order to minimize the issue for next year’s seniors, the administration is pursuing a temporary solution to the problem. In the spring, construction for the new humanities wing and library will begin, which will require a lot of mobilization. Luckily, the timing of the project is perfect, as the construction company has agreed to construct a temporary parking lot for both construction workers and faculty to use. “That will alleviate some of the faculty spots,” Ms. Gabriele said, therefore allowing some of the faculty parking to free up for students. However, this is a very temporary solution, as the parking lot will go away once the construction is over (about a year from when it will begin).
Long-term, permanent options are also being looked at in the hopes of one day completely ridding SLS of it’s parking problem. Though a permanent solution will not be implemented in the next year, one will hopefully be put into place following the construction project. One of these options includes possibly putting a temporary surface on top of the tennis courts, allowing the area to be used for overflow parking when it is not tennis season, while also ensuring that the courts are not damaged. Finding a permanent solution to the problem is much more difficult than it may seem. With houses and wetlands surrounding the school and environmental issues, the task of finding extra space for parking is far from simple. “We are trying to balance the need for parking and what the future trends are,” Ms. Gabriele noted, as she mentioned that trend towards driverless cars and what that will ultimately mean for SLS in the future has been discussed.
Though next year’s senior class can rest assured knowing that finding parking spots will hopefully not be as difficult as they anticipated, all solutions being looked into (whether temporary or permanent) do not grant juniors the ability to park. “I would love to imagine juniors and seniors driving, but to create that kind of space…Right now it will remain a senior privilege” Ms. Gabriele said.