Front lawn should not have parking lot

Bria Brown

Atlanta Public Schools’ plans for expanding Grady’s campus are the controversial conversation topic of students, staff and parents.

Some believe the new parking lot included in the plans would alleviate the stress of finding safe parking at school, while others think an added lot will take away from the school’s history and its environment, which is where I stand.

I have been very active in the push to make streets within the Atlanta Public Schools district safer for not only the students who use them but also the surrounding communities. Specifically, I have been advocating for the safety of 10th and Monroe, as we lost a student and community member about four years ago to an accident at that intersection.

The Grady Pedestrian Safety Coalition, the group I founded to lead the efforts in making the streets safer, has met with council members and other interest groups to advance the safety of everyone. 

The main lawn should be preserved and not turned into a parking lot.

The additional construction of a new building will require removing the current portables to make way for 10 more “modular classrooms,” as they are called (in the plans) on the main lawn. The current dirt parking lot will be paved and turned into a parking lot with capacity for 76 cars. 

To accommodate the need for more parking, a portion of the front lawn along Charles Allen Drive will be removed for an additional 50 parking spots facing the entrance to the school. 

This problem has persisted every year for Grady students, as the student population increases. This year is no different, but what has changed is the way APS has decided to combat the issue.

The two current parking lots are of poor quality, one is unpaved, and both are too small for the number of students currently enrolled, as well as for the projected enrollment in years to come. The schools can hold 1275 students, without the addition of the portables, however the current enrollment for the 2019-20 year is 1431 students. APS projects that the student body will increase by almost 30 percent from this school year to the 2020-2021 school year. 

District members refuse to consider redistricting to fix the overcrowding problem. In 2017, redistricting was on the table as an option to alleviate overcrowding for the Grady cluster, however efforts to pursue that solution have halted since the renovations of the Howard building.

In places that face a similar parking problem like the University of North Carolina, they have implemented a paid parking system, where students pay $4 to $5 a day to park. 

While we used to have a paid parking system, many students decided to park their cars without getting a parking pass.

This solution to the parking problem would make use of the current parking while saving the front lawn. 

We shouldn’t put a parking lot in front of the school because it would take away from the beautiful greenery that surrounds our school, to be replaced by a parking lot. 

The green space in front of Grady is one of the many defining features of the school, and it is possibly the largest green space on the campus, which is important for the environment. 

More importantly, the addition of parking spots to the Charles Allen location would make the street heavily congested. It’s currently the quietest street bordering Grady.

Four years ago, we lost a young member of the Grady community to a car accident at the intersection at 10th Street and Monroe Drive. The intersection isn’t safe, and many groups have been working hard to make the intersection safer with the help of city council members. 

Three out of four of the streets adjacent to our school are heavily travelled during at least one point in the day, while Charles Allen remains calm. The addition of a parking lot on the Charles Allen side of the school would make every street adjacent to the school of potential danger to pedestrians. 

To put a parking lot on the Charles Allen front lawn would minimize the effects of the work done to make the area surrounding the school safer for pedestrians, such as adding a new cross walk to the 10th street side.