When staff and students arrive at Urbana High School on Wednesday for the start of a new school year, they will notice some familiar sights have changed in anticipation of the construction of a new high school. Not only have classrooms in the east building been vacated and windows removed to allow for the pending demolition of this portion of the high school, but two on-site parking lots – one surrounding the east building and one located off East Lawn Avenue – are being eliminated to allow for construction to take place this school year.
Superintendent Charles Thiel said while the parking lot surrounding the east building, which was used in the past by staff as well as high schoolers who were mentors in the Freshman Focus program, will be closed beginning Wednesday, the larger student-only lot accessed from East Lawn Avenue will be closed “within the next couple of weeks once the construction perimeter fence is installed.”
As a result of the closures, the surrounding neighborhood will see an increase in on-street parking, particularly from students who drive to school.
“There will be about 65 parking spaces eliminated in the east building parking lot and over 250 in the East Lawn lot,” Thiel said. “All spaces in the east building were used, while only about 80 spaces in the East Lawn lot were used on a daily basis.”
Thiel added staff who were accustomed to parking in the east building lot will have access to other parking spots on the high school/junior high campus since sixth- and seventh-grade staff and students will be housed during the construction phase at the previously closed Local Intermediate school at 2468 state Route 54.
City preps streets
In light of over 300 on-site parking spots being eliminated at the high school, city Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said, city staff is aware of the “potential for challenges” associated with increased parking along Boyce Street, East Lawn Avenue, Washington Avenue, Lincoln Place, Lafayette Avenue and Sycamore Street.
“Potentially, they are all going to get more use,” he said. “It’s something the city needs to be cognizant of.”
To prepare for high schoolers in search of on-street parking, city crews have been busy addressing restricted parking spots around not only the high school/junior high, but all other school buildings within the district by reapplying yellow paint to the curbs around intersections, public drives/access points and fire hydrants.
“We are making sure we get fresh paint put down,” Brugger said.
Despite inquires from the public, curb areas surrounding private driveways will not receive fresh coats of paint. While this was done in the distant past, it’s no longer something the city does.
“We can’t go around town painting personal driveways,” said Brugger, adding if a property owner’s driveway is blocked, the best course of action is to call the Urbana Police Division.
Parking restrictions eliminated
In hopes of creating additional on-street parking spots for students, the city has elected to do away with the one-hour parking restriction in the 500 block of Washington Avenue, from Sycamore Street to East Lawn Avenue.
“Those signs are being removed because we can’t really take away any available public parking,” Brugger said. “They were placed there by the city at some point in the past, but we can’t find any details as to why it was done.”
As a reminder to staff, students and parents who may be searching for on-street parking, the city will be enforcing its traffic code as outlined in the city’s codified ordinances, Brugger said.
Parking restrictions that apply to the neighborhood around the high school/junior high include no parking in the following areas: In front of a public or private driveway, within an intersection or within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, on a crosswalk, within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection, where the curb or street is painted yellow, or any place where signs prohibit parking or stopping.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.