WOHS’ Parking Problems and Traffic Troubles

Peyton Smith, Editor-in-Chief

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Imagine trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Trying to find a parking spot or navigate the parking lot at West Orange High School (WOHS) during a normal school day is a similarly unnerving experience.

The brunt of the parking limitations at WOHS are felt by the student body, as there are a finite number of parking spots in the Degnan lot and there are no parking permits available to students. The Degnan parking lot is owned by the town, not the West Orange School District, so this means that WOHS cannot give out parking permits to students.

Early in the school year, student parking is not really an issue, since only seniors can drive.  But by the time spring comes around and more students get licensed, there are more students driving to school and competing for spots in the Degnan lot. The Pioneer counted that there are 122 legal non-handicap parking spots in the Degnan lot, which is not ideal for a school with over 2,000 students.

The only solution for students to make sure they get a parking spot is to get to school earlier. The student lot usually fills up around 7:20 a.m. (which is late given that school starts at 7:30 a.m.), but it can happen earlier and later than this. This means that the best time to arrive is by 7:15 at the latest to ensure that you will get a parking spot.

Personal experience makes it clear that more than 122 students drive to school each day. After the student lot fills up, people quickly start to create their own spots and double park. This makes the parking lot dangerous and unnavigable to other drivers and pedestrians. This could also prevent another student with an early dismissal from being able to leave for a doctor’s appointment or family emergency.

The school district and township should work together to provide alternate parking options for students. Many students opt to create their own parking spots rather than risk getting a $60 ticket for parking on Alisa Drive, the side street that leads to the Degnan lot and the Katz Community Center. It is difficult to understand why there is restricted parking on Alisa Drive because the Katz Community Center and Degnan Park are not regularly used from 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. during a normal business week.

Students may have difficulties trying to park in the Degnan lot, but there are also parking and traffic issues in the Conforti parking lot. Between buses, parents dropping off their children, and teachers all converging in the Conforti parking lot at the same time, it is chaotic and dangerous for pedestrians and drivers. Although WOHS security staff does their best to assist with the flow of traffic, they are simply out numbered. Perhaps teachers could get the option of doing morning parking lot duty and help direct traffic rather than having to do lunch duty.

Another problem is that parking availability for substitute teachers, student teachers, and visitors is quite limited. There are very few if any extra spots in the Conforti parking lot, which raises questions as to why the grass field on Conforti Avenue was not turned into a much needed extra parking lot after WOHS removed trailers from its campus. Although it might be more costly, an additional parking lot would dramatically increase safety and convenience for everyone who attends, works at, or visits WOHS. And shouldn’t safety be our highest priority?

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