Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Fight School Parking Lot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Fight School Parking Lot

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, Clay County Line staff writer

Homeowners who live near Orange Park Elementary are opposing a plan to build a school parking lot on vacant land at one end of their quiet street.

The parking lot would destroy the hard-won charm and character of their Hurley Street neighborhood, which used to have "undesirable" elements and frequent police visits, and worsen existing traffic problems in the area, residents said.

"We have had a long association with Orange Park Elementary. We hear the children laugh and play and scream with jubilation," resident Art Hall told the Clay County School Board. "Please do not turn a wonderful association into a bitter association."

The school district has bought a corner lot at Hurley and Smith streets, on the southeastern corner of the school campus. District officials are seeking board approval to buy through eminent domain three additional lots adjacent to the corner lot, all of which would be used for a parking area.

At its Thursday meeting, the board postponed action on the plan for a month, in hopes district officials would work out a compromise with residents.

"Please work it out," board member Charles "Mickey" Fields said.

Public parking at the school is limited to a handful of spaces near the front of the school and a few dozen more spaces along the north and east sides. But district officials said more public parking is needed there than at most elementary schools. As a concept school open to students from across the county, no bus transportation is provided, so parents bring their children to the school. Also, a high level of volunteerism is required of parents.

Other residents have complained about parents parking on private property, clogging roadways and creating traffic hazards, they said.

But Hurley Street residents and other neighbors want the board to seek other options for a solution to the parking problem. …

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