Inadequate parking options at school trouble students (Map)

Before senior Obi Obiora got his driver’s license, his morning commute from Hyde Park took an hour. He would ride the Commuter Rail downtown to Back Bay, walk to Copley and take the Green Line back out to Brookline Hills.

Now that Obiora can drive, his commute is shorter – but getting to school has become only half the battle. Like many students who drive, finding a place to park is the biggest struggle.

Obiora first takes his sister to the Lincoln School. Before looking for a parking spot, he drops his younger brother off at the high school. He normally parks on Clark Road, a seven to 10-minute walk from the high school.

“I’m the only one that’s ever late,” he said.

He usually parks illegally because there is no parking there from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. or parking for more than two hours any time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.. Obiora said those rules are ridiculous.

“Nobody parks there anyway, even during the middle of the day,” he said. “There’s lots of spots there, so I don’t see what the issue is.”

Obiora said he hates tickets, after he got six in the past year.

Junior Temen Kim, who also got a ticket this year for parking on Clark Road, feels similarly.

“I just don’t think that students should be penalized for coming to school,” he said. “If I’m going to get a ticket for $30 because I need to get to school and there’s no other way of getting to school, then I’ll just stay home. But I’d rather come to school and get my education.”

Kim said that his parents have driven him to school since he got the ticket, but it is really inconvenient for them.

Headmaster’s Secretary Kelli McDermott said that the school has made peace with the fact that it is difficult for students to drive.

“We frown upon it. We don’t want students to park,” she said.

Instead, McDermott said that students who live too far away to walk can take one of the buses that the high school provides or the T. According to McDermott, the high school provides the buses even though it is not legally obligated to do so.

“The buses that come in in the morning are a courtesy,” she said.

McDermott said that teachers get parking permits because many of them live outside of Brookline. According to Assistant Headmaster Hal Mason, they park on Blake, Davis, Gorham, Greenough, Lowell, Somerset, Tappan and Welland Roads.

He said that as part of a deal that the high school made with neighbors when it was last renovated, the number of teacher permits for each street is fewer than the total number of possible spots, so that residents and work crews can park.

Kim said that because there is not space for students, the high school should use part of Cypress Field for parking.

“I get that JV and freshman soccer play there, but I think we could possibly use that space to make a parking lot,” he said. “Not all of Cypress. There’s two baseball fields, so maybe cut one in half.”

Obiora’s solution is for the school to give some students parking permits like those for teachers, but not for the teachers’ spots.

“I think senior students should be able to park,” he said. “They should do a lottery or something, and give maybe only a few kids stickers.”

According to Mason and McDermott, there was a lottery for 10 Somerset Road permits for seniors up until 2008. Mason said that that ended to absorb an increase in teachers’ requests for permits. McDermott said that the high school can only issue permits for the limited area that is authorized by the town.

Brookline Transportation Administrator Todd Kirrane did not respond to requests for comment.

However, Kim said he would also be happy with permits that are a little further out from the high school than where teachers currently park.

“If it’s within a 10 to five-minute walking range, then I’m perfectly fine with that,” he said.

Aaron Sege can be contacted at [email protected]

Map created and designed by Eoin Walsh.