Students parking in neighborhood prompts call for ban
A request to extend the residents-only parking along Pinewood Drive to Westwood Park before the Minden Town Board didn’t have anything to do with a shortage of parking for residents.
It was more who was parking along Pinewood, which runs behind the Ironwood Center and up to a gate accessing Douglas High School.
School Resources Officer Deputy John Meyer requested a change to prevent Douglas High students from parking and congregating in the neighborhood.
Meyer said students go out to their cars during lunch, where they smoke and play loud music, annoying residents along the street.
Someone stole the residential parking only sign on the east side of the street. Meyer’s request was to extend the green curb and signs on the west side of Pinewood Drive in response to residents’ complaints.
Meyers told board members that if they approve the extension, the sheriff’s office will enforce the parking rules.
With the freshman class due to arrive at Douglas High next year, Meyers said the plan is to close the campus at lunchtime.
“This was definitely a big year for residents complaints,” he said.
The gate at the end of Pinewood is open in the mornings and afternoons for use by students who walk to school.
Board chairman Matt Bernard, who was a student at Douglas High School the day it opened, said he felt that chasing the students away from Pinewood would send them into someone else’s neighborhood.
He was also concerned that the back gates to the high school might be closed during baseball games when they are the closest access for residents.
“It’s a long walk from the parking lot at the school,” he said.
Board member and former Douglas High School Principal Charlie Condron said the problem is not new.
“This is an age old problem and the only solution is enforcement,” he said.
Resident Robert McMillan said he felt that the street was a public resource and should be available for town residents.
He pointed out that there was no need for additional parking for residents along the street, since the condos and apartment buildings there were designed to provide enough onsite.
Bernard agreed that the residents have plenty of parking. The town was considering the resident-only parking as a tool to keep students out of the neighborhood.
Board member Roxanne Stangle said she’d like to consider other solutions to the issue.
“This is not a parking problem,” she said. “It’s intriguing to me to consider limiting parking during certain hours or saying no student parking.”
Board member John Stephans said he would like to hear from the school district about the problem before coming to a conclusion.
Town Manager Jenifer Davidson said signs went back up along the portion of the street that has already been approved for resident-only parking. The town won’t be able to paint the curb again until spring.
Town board members presented Steve Thaler with a plaque on his last meeting. Thaler was appointed in 2008 and served on the board for six years. He was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in November and will replace Lee Bonner on that board in January.