Op-Ed: GHS Student Government Talks Hillside Road Parking
By GHS Student Govt.
Dear Greenwich Community,
In the last few weeks, the Board of Selectmen has proposed eliminating all student parking along Hillside Road. In light of this, the Executive Committee of Student Government, as representatives of the student body at Greenwich High School, again writes to our community to vocalize the perspective of the students.
We ask you to consider the importance of parking to the potentially 72 students who next year will not have a parking spot. When families have a child who can drive himself/herself lifestyles change and family responsibilities shift. We take on after school jobs and caretaking duties for our siblings. For the many of us that are involved in sports, rehearsals, clubs, volunteering, and other extracurriculars, we lift the burden of transportation for our parents. Student parking is much more than leaving campus to get lunch at Rinaldi’s during our opens or going to the beach after school. Student parking embodies Greenwich High School’s motto which has been instilled in us day after day, month after month, year after year: “freedom with responsibility.” Stripping 72 students and their families of the independence that comes with driving themselves and parking at school is, simply put, a big deal.
Additionally, removing parking along the street generates a logistical issue with buses. When fewer students are able to park, more students will need to ride the bus to and from school. Factored into the number of buses delegated to the high school is the number of students able to park; this includes seniors with permits, and those with whom they carpool. If these students can no longer drive themselves, we will need to add another bus. This costs our community $80,000. We ask you to consider whether this issue is worth the cost of adding another bus and remapping bus routes, as well as the resulting addition to morning and after-school traffic. Many students are also not bus eligible, and it is not realistic to expect even more students to walk the two miles to school with dangerous area traffic, a lack of sidewalks, and New England weather.
We sympathize with our neighbors’ legitimate concerns about living next to a high school with heavy congestion in the mornings and afternoons, as well as programs that run into the night and on weekends. Greenwich High School is pleased to share our space with community groups such as youth athletic activities and religious organizations, and we realize that this creates a constant buzz of activity seven days a week. This congestion, however, is not caused by student street parking. It is the result of the extensive programming that takes place in a town like Greenwich with one central high school facility.
As students, it’s important for us to be good neighbors. We’ve led campus cleanups, we have staged our events so that they have as little impact on our neighbors as possible, and we consistently emphasize courteous behavior. We have spoken with our administration and we are confident they will accommodate overflow parking for our neighbors’ events if they are told in advance.
Lastly, we would like to address the important legal background of this conversation. The issue of parking along Hillside Road is not a new topic. Since GHS was built on Hillside Road in 1970, traffic congestion has been on the back burner. In 1995 with the Municipal Improvement Application and again in 2010 with MISA, the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Board of Selectmen affirmed at least 72 off-site parking spaces along Hillside Road.
We quote from the P&Z 1995 resolution, “Any future proposal to eliminate or severely cut back any additional parking on Hillside Avenue will require revised Site Plan review by the P&Z to determine adverse effect if any on the ability of the school to handle parking and transportation needs to the students, faculty, guests, etc. Street spaces are considered by the Commission to be part of the school’s required parking inventory.”
Parking is more than a privilege enjoyed by GHS seniors, it is a resource that helps us excel in all of the amazing things we do in and outside of the classroom. It is a logistical convenience for our parents who depend upon us to transport both ourselves and our siblings to school and after-school activities. Please do not view the elimination of on-street student parking as the solution to congestion at GHS.
The GHS Student Government Executive Committee
Members of the GHS Student Government Exectuive Committee: Greg Goldstein- Student Body President
Catherine Veronis — VP of Communication
Sophia Chow — VP of Student Concerns
Julia Putrino — VP of Special Events
Emily Gunzburg — VP of Community Service
Alissa Landberg — Senior Class President
Alex Kosyakov — Junior Class President
Zane Khader — Sophomore Class President
Mark Chen — Freshman Class President