The unmentionable parking problem

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

Kudos to Sybil Davis and Juneau Arts and Humanities for the Alvin Ailey II dance concert Friday night. I was one of the capacity crowd at the high school auditorium that was captivated by their artistry. Thank you for a great evening.

Friday night was homecoming at the high school, so the gym also had a capacity crowd. The net result was we once more had the unmentionable problem. I call it unmentionable, because just like a family tiptoeing around and not mentioning the family alcoholic, this problem is huge, everyone knows about it, but there is no dialogue to solve it. I refer to parking. So let's say it out loud. We have a multi-faceted parking problem at the high school. Various persons and groups talk about a part of it. But no one is offering a comprehensive plan to address all the needs.

Despite the digs by persons who were JDHS students 40 years ago when almost all high school students lived in town or Douglas, the students are correct that their parking needs need to be met. Now the majority of the students do not live within walking distance, they live in the Valley.

The high school principal is also correct. There is a need for front row parking to encourage parental and community participation. But students and teachers are also correct when they argue that as the people who spend the majority of their day at the facility, they deserve convenient parking. The rejoinder that the kids are young and too lazy to hike down the hill from parking in the Highlands is highly disrespectful of these young people and ageism at its worst. It also throws the parking problem onto the Highlands Community.

The problem is exacerbated by the community activities which draw family, friends and the general public to activities at the high school. Twenty years ago when the community decision was made to have the high school auditorium be the community performing arts facility rather than investing in Centennial Hall to bring that facility to the appropriate standard, there was hardly a peep about the effect that decision would have on area parking. So for 20 years we have lived with this problem.

For the sake of getting a community dialogue going, and with the hope that such a dialogue will lead to a solution, I make a modest proposal. Why don't we build a multi-story parking garage over the parking area beside the school on the Highland Drive side? Make it a pay-to-park facility 24/7/365. It can pay for itself.

Becky Bear


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