Space, the final frontier – Parking and Storage Issues at Pierson

Posted on 06 November 2008

Although administrators are looking for ways to save money for the Sag Harbor school district, the newly formed long range planning committee is still meeting regularly to talk about major changes to both the high school and elementary school. This week’s topics were storage, spatial issues and parking.
The meetings take place in the library at the high school, where anyone from the community is invited to attend. The purpose of the meetings is for members to go through a facility study —completed in February 2007, which was revised in September of this year — to develop a long-range plan for both the high school and elementary school. The topics in the study can be as small as ventilation issues or as complex as a new auditorium.
At last Thursday’s meeting, the district’s architect, Larry Salvesen, said that the parking at the elementary school desperately needs to be upgraded, because there aren’t even enough spaces for the faculty. Salvesen said that there are currently 54 spaces available for parking on school grounds but there are 95 faculty members. At present faculty members are parking along Ackerly Street and other small streets near the school, which school board president Walter Wilcoxen said is a major issue.
“The village has complained that there is no containment of parking on the property of the schools,” he noted.
At one of their earlier meetings, Salvesen said that changes could be made to the lots along Clinton Street and at the bottom of Pierson hill, along Jermain Avenue. In the past, the community has expressed concern over creating parking there and on Thursday the committee took these two options off the list. The proposal for a reconfigured front parking lot at the elementary school was discussed, and it was decided that the lot should be re-designed to allow for more spaces. Salvesen said that the changes to the front parking lot at the elementary school would cost just over $350,000.
Also at the elementary school, Salvesen referred to the Atlantic Avenue parking lot as a “fender bender in the making.” He proposed extending the lot approximately 30 feet and a little into the asphalt basketball courts at the back of the elementary school. The proposed changes to the Atlantic Avenue lot, according to Salvesen, could cost the district $160,000 but committee members made no decisions on that lot last week.
At the high school, the proposed changes would include some work to the parking lot along Jermain Avenue. This lot has caused problems for the teachers recently, according to building/grounds athletic director, Bill Madsen. Madsen believes that this too should be top priority.
“We have teachers and administrators parking illegally,” Madsen said, “we have them parked on the grass, too, because there is no where for them to go.”
Wilcoxen and fellow board member Mary Ann Miller both said they believe it would cost the district less money if the board of education could apply for approval of all the parking projects at one time. The proposal for a reconfiguration for the lots on Jermain Avenue would add 17 more spaces for $375,000.
Members of the committee asked why there was such a big price tag attached to the parking projects, and Salvsen responded that it is not just a matter of re-striping, but there are drainage issues and sealing and realigning that become costly.
Wilcoxen suggested that at the next meeting, the committee could continue their conversation of parking and invite police chief Tom Fabiano to attend and give the group his input. Salvesen said that the only restrictions for parking in the village, seem to be those directly surrounding the schools.
In addition to parking, Thursday night’s agenda also included storage and spatial issues at both schools. Elementary school principal Joan Frisicano said that currently there are two portable storage sheds, which are located at the back of the elementary school. One is waiting to be sent back, because it is broken, and the other is either filled with chairs or tables. Frisicano said that there is not enough room in the storage container for both the chairs and tables at the same time. She also said that the school has to reduce the ordering of some items because there is nowhere to store the items.
“We have to split the art order and order different things a few times per year because we don’t have anywhere to store them,” Frisicano said.
Salvesen presented a proposal for a two-story addition to the right side of the elementary school that he said would possibly solve the storage problem and may help create additional classrooms. This project could cost the district $4.8 million, according to Salvesen.
At the high school, Salvesen said there were items being stored in the corridor downstairs in the woodshop and cafeteria area — when he first completed the facility study. Those items have since been moved.
“I don’t know where these things disappeared to, but they all seem to have a home now,” he said. He added there are still storage needs at the high school.
Madsen proposed that the committee do the same thing as they did with plans for a new auditorium.
“We could have one plan, the Taj Mahal, and then less expensive plans – A,B,C – that can be looked at,” he offered.
The next long range planning committee meeting will be held in the Pierson High School library on November 13.

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