Parking predicament fuels idling


Photo Viggo Jabon

Parking along WHS on Trinity Place

On the morning of Feb. 18 during an extended homeroom, teachers were instructed to play a video issued by the town on the dangers of idling. While idling before school may seem like a small issue, researchers estimate that idling from both heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles wastes about six billion gallons of fuel annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Many students believe, however, that the student parking situation at WHS contributes to their morning idling.

For WHS students, residential streets are available for parking, along with the back row of spots in the rear parking lot. The rest of the lot is either reserved for teachers or SGA members, with the armory lot closed to students as well. Some say that the parking available on streets is enough for students, but with the number of seniors and juniors driving cars, along with homeowners who park in front of their homes, students argue available spots start to dwindle.

Many students arrive to school half an hour to an hour early in order to get a parking spot close to the school. Since the building does not open until 7 a.m. and classes don’t begin for another half hour, students sit in their cars, usually idling. Many feel they are forced to idle due to environmental conditions—they leave the heat on to stay warm in the winter.

“Learning from the video, I would advise that if students want to get here early to get a spot, bring a blanket,” said WHS Assistant Principal Mabel Huynh. “Bring something warm to drink. Hopefully, from the video, we learned that there are alternative ways to do it correctly.”

To prevent idling, students could also collectively agree to stop getting to school as early. However, there would still be fights over the limited number of parking spots, according to senior Julia Csorba.

“I get to school around 7 a.m. even though I live around the corner, because I need to be able to leave school as soon as possible to go to track practice,” said Csorba. “If I don’t get to school by then, I have to park really far away.”

The problem of idling at WHS is much more complicated than students choosing to leave their cars on out of ignorance. While idling is certainly damaging the environment, it has simply become a staple of students’ morning routine.

“I [arrive] around 7:30 because I have first period off. I get there early so I can find somewhere reasonably decent to park. I go into school at 8:05 and idle the entire time [prior] in order to keep the air on and listen to music,” said an anonymous junior.

WHS is situated in the middle of a residential area with limited space, so adding another parking lot for students would not be feasible. No concrete solutions have been implemented so far except for the SGA’s monthly raffle of a spot in the parking lot. Even administration doesn’t seem to have a solution to the seemingly unsolvable parking predicament.

“Having kids carpool would maybe be a solution,” said Huynh. “Maybe some kids who live within walking distance can not take their cars and walk instead.”

Until the parking situation at WHS is improved for students, it seems unlikely that the town, students or administration will be able to come up with a solution that completely eradicates the parking problem, thereby eliminating the issue of idling.