By DANNY RAMEY
Starting the week of Dec. 13, Jefferson Junior High is officially using its new parking lot addition.
The parking lot is on the other side of Hickman Avenue from the high school and will be used for teacher parking. The former teacher parking lot will now be used for 30-minute parent parking, said principal Gregery Caine.
Caine was uncertain as to exactly which day the change would be made but said the change would be made once new signage for each lot was put up.
The school first began pursuing the parking lot addition as a way to improve traffic congestion around the school, according to a previous Missourian article. In the past, many parents picking up and dropping off their children at the school were not able to get into the existing parent parking. They then resorted to parking illegally on the street, which clogged up the street and raised safety concerns.
Because the addition has not been fully used yet, it is unclear how it will affect traffic in the area.
The parking lot raised another set up issues as homeowners near the parking lot expressed concerns that it would exacerbate already existing flooding problems in the area. These homeowners met with Columbia Public Schools to talk about ways to mitigate the impact of the parking lot or find other options for reducing traffic.
These talks, however, never bore any fruit, and creation of the lot moved on as originally planned.
Pat Fowler, who led the effort to minimize the impact of the lot and owns property adjacent to it, said it was too early to determine whether the addition had made flooding worse in the area because there had not been a major rain storm since the lot was finished.
Although the teachers may use the lot, some lines still need to be painted.
The lines in the addition have been painted, Caine said. However, the lines in the existing portion of the lot were blacked out in order to re-align them with the new lot, and the temperature dropped below 40 degrees before the rest of the lines could be painted.
Once spring hits and the ground temperature rises to about 45 degrees, the district will seal the older portion of the lot and then paint the new lines, Charles Oestreich, director of facilities and construction services for Columbia Public Schools, said.
The lack of all of the lines limits optimal parking space in the lot, but there is still enough room for the teachers, Caine said.
“We thought, ‘All right, we’ll use it the way it is until the spring comes and we can get it painted,'” he said.
Oestreich said that once all of the lines are painted, the expanded lot will have 52 parking spots.