By CHARLES ANDERSON
I am writing in response to Mayor Cathy Clark’s column (City looking at McNary parking, Keizertimes, March 17).
The safety of the kids is the first priority and this situation has created some compromised safety issues for the students and also along with the parking issues disrupting the lives of the residents of and around Newberg Drive N.
First off let me inform you that this problem of traffic and parking did not exist until sometime mid-term of the school year of 2015-16, and the school was already over-crowded prior to that. All of a sudden the traffic and parking became a huge issue in middle of that school year to this neighborhood. I wonder how they got by prior to this issue since the overcrowding was about the same then as it is today? (Enrollment at McNary in 2013 was 2,107; in 2016 it is 2,075.)
This problem just all of a sudden came to be, if you don’t believe me, ask some of the residents who are fairly new to Newberg Drive. They told me that they would not have purchased here if they knew this problem was coming and it was not that way when they both invested in their homes here just a few years ago.
During the 2015-16 school year, and before, parents were able to deliver their kids to school without knowing to use Newberg Drive. Since there are no huge differences in student enrollment numbers the only solution is to revert back to that time.
This problem exists for convenience rather then necessity. Now that the word is out for an additional drop off point on Newberg Drive and MacArthur Street plus “free parking” on the “under maintained” street of MacArthur Street and in the cul de sac of Max Court, this neighborhood is being taken advantage of and with less safety for the students. In order to stop these safety and parking issues then there are really only two ways to accomplish it and anything else would be a patch job and very ineffective. This patchwork would also enable and help justify the school to continue to make Newberg Drive unsafe and the cul de sac into a high school parking lot. So the two solutions are as follows:
Number one (the best solution) is by locking the gate at MacArthur Street and making McNary a closed campus at least until they make a better parking lot or find another solution to their overcrowding. There would be zero cost (I say it again: zero cost!) to lock the gate and could be implemented in just a few days to notify the students and parents the gate is closed and these safety and parking problems would be solved just like we didn’t have these problems in 2015 and prior. Once again these problems were not here during and prior to the last school year so the parents and students obviously got by with the overcrowding of the school, so its really more about convenience of the parents to drop off students and the “free parking” for students in a cul de sac that was designed to keep traffic and vehicles at a minimum and certainly not to be used as a school parking lot.
Solution number two is not the best—it would certainly tone down the traffic and not do much of anything about the parking issues—is to open the gates on Sandy and Robbindale drives, plus possibly adding another gate to Orchard Street. (note the Orchard Street gate would not be any less safe then the students crossing four lanes of traffic in McNary and through the parking lot at the entry from MacArthur Street).
I agree that adding street lights would be very nice for Newberg Drive, but it is another slim patch up job for the kids safety that doesn’t do anything at all except when it is dark outside. Adding permit parking in this neighborhood would be costly and very difficult for the city and the neighbors to manage and is yet another flimsy patch job when making McNary into a closed campus is a quick and easy fix, with only the inconvenience that they have already endured previously.
In the last city council meeting City Manager Chris Eppley said that he can not order the school to lock the gate but has tried to get them to lock it, but I would be willing to bet that he has some clout inside the borders of Keizer and Salem-Keizer School District. This is about the safety issues of the students plus the upsetting of the lives of the people who live in and around Newberg Drive.
Mr. Eppley and Mayor Clark I am asking you to step up and use your powers to stop this madness caused by the new principal of McNary and the Salem-Keizer School District. You could file Quality Assurance Model (QAM) papers with the school district and show objection. You could also go public and announce your position strongly since I know you really care about student safety and possibly even for the residents of this neighborhood. I think the Salem-Keizer School District would listen to you. Once again, I am asking the city of Keizer to stand up for your citizens both young and old and stop the school from causing safety issues and making this neighborhood a very uncomfortable place to live.
(Charles Anderson lives in Keizer.)