With Pinkerton Academy’s parking lot filled to capacity, administrators are exploring options for possibly adding 100 more parking spaces.
The item came up during the Board of Trustees’ annual Winter Meeting with sending schools on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
“We all know this is a touchy subject,” Headmaster Griffin Morse said at the start of his presentation on parking.
The lot across from the high school on Route 28 is filled to capacity, according to officials.
Morse said the dilemma facing administrators is that, while there is a shortage of spaces, adding more would place additional vehicles on the road.
“The question is do we have enough parking for everybody?” Morse said, answering his own question by saying that there isn’t enough parking for students.
He provided parking figures that show of the school’s 771 seniors, 450 of them have parking permits. In total 551 parking permits were issued this year. The remaining permits were distributed to a variety of students, according to the figures.
“So we are far from meeting the needs of all of the kids who have cars and the intention to drive them,” Morse said.
As for the current parking situation, Dean of Students Tim Powers said staff assigned to parking do an excellent job each day in ensuring the lot is cleared within about 20 minutes after dismissal at 2:10 p.m.
He said it’s remarkable that the lot is cleared so quickly, with “500 student cars in that lot, plus all of the busses leaving the parking lot as well.”
He added that administrators have to consider what impact adding 100 parking spaces would have on traffic entering the school in the morning and then exiting in the afternoon.
Powers was scheduled to meet with Derry officials in the coming days to discuss the parking situation.
One of the potential sites for adding the 100 parking spaces administrators are considering lies just below the varsity football field, Morse said.
But because of the location, selecting this site would involve addressing such issues as security and policing the lot, Morse said.
“Kids go to their cars, who’s policing that; do we have security cameras?” he said. “Do we send more security up there during the course of the day if we have to?”
And selecting the lot near the football field could affect where the high school can place its athletic fields in the future, Morse said.
Administrators are also considering possibly using local property that could be purchased from neighbors.
“We might be interested in turning a piece of local property into parking,” he said.
But choosing this option could be problematic if the property is too far from campus. This would create pedestrian traffic in high density areas and require more supervision from staff, he said.
Morse said administrators already have to supervise the parking lot, with two associate deans assigned there each school day.
While considering where to locate the additional spaces, Morse said administrators recognize they have drivers coming from Hooksett and Candia who must travel a long distance to the school.
Because of the lack of spaces, some students are parking at other sites in town. In one incident in the fall, a student was hit by a driver after leaving a site near the Rotary, he said.
Another factor in considering additional parking involves the $65 fee students are required to pay for an annual parking permit. The funds generated from the fee aren’t sufficient to pay for such items as paving, he said.
If additional spaces are added, Morse said the high school would like to pay for the expansion through parking permits but finding the right formula is complicated.
With no definite decision in sight, plans call for school officials to continue exploring parking options in the coming months.