Residents living along Corners Drive and other streets near Dunwoody High School continue to seek relief from city officials to stop dozens of students from parking in front of their homes because there are no available spaces at the school.
St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church on Mount Vernon Road, about a half-mile from the school’s campus, recently opened up 80 spaces in its parking lot to be used by students to try to ease the frustration residents and students feel from not enough parking spaces on campus. Cost to park at the church is $30 a year, a smaller amount than the $45 it costs annually to park at DHS.
“We certainly can’t blame the neighbors for being upset. It’s not like they moved in the flight path of PDK Airport and then started complaining about noise. They haven’t had this problem until this school year,” City Councilmember Jim Riticher said.
“I understand residents’ concerns because there are tons of cars every day – sometimes 20 cars in a row – on a street,” City Councilmember Lynn Deutsch said.
Residents have complained of sometimes not receiving mail because their mailboxes or driveways were blocked, Deutsch said.
DHS Principal Tom McFerrin opened up 25 more parking slots on campus at the beginning of the year, Deutsch said, and she hopes in the weeks to come more and more students will take advantage of the parking available at the church. Currently, only seniors and staff are allowed to park at DHS.
Residents have been leaving notes on the windshields of students’ vehicles telling them they can’t park in front of their homes. Police have been called numerous times to ticket or warn students, and the city has also installed signs saying “No Parking from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.” on several streets around the high school.
Mayor Denis Shortal along with Deutsch, Riticher and Police Chief Billy Grogan met recently with residents at a private home on Corners Drive to hear their concerns of student parking.
Shortal said the city is asking DeKalb School Board member Stan Jester to request that paving a detention pond at DHS be bumped up on the Education Special Local Option Sales Tax project list to try to get more student parking off neighborhood streets.
Funding for E-SPLOST begins being collected in March and as soon as the detention pond is paved, another 160 spaces could be made available, Shortal said.
“We’re trying right now to see how parking at St. Luke’s works,” Riticher said. “The school is working with the church to encourage students to park there.”
“There are just a lot more kids going to DHS,” Riticher added.
And with more students participating in after-school activities and also many working jobs after school, there is also the need for more students to drive to school, said Shortal and Riticher.
Shortal said McFerrin has promised that juniors who agree to park at the church will receive prime locations in the school parking lot during their senior year.
“We can’t force a child to park at St. Luke’s, but we can encourage them to park there,” Shortal said. “If you park at St. Luke’s, you are guaranteed a spot at the school next year.
“And walking is good training, good college prep,” the mayor said half-joking. “You learn very quickly there is nowhere close to park when you go to college. We’re all in this together, like a family, and the key is compromise that satisfies everyone.”