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Borough Council To Hear PHS Parking Solutions At June Council Meeting

Candace Braun

Alternative solutions to the lack of student parking at Princeton High School will be presented to Borough Council in early June, Councilwoman Wendy Benchley said in a recent interview.

"What we're doing right now is meeting with some of the parents [to discuss the issue]," said Ms. Benchley, who is heading an ad hoc committee to find answers.

Originally intending to present its parking solutions to Council in April, the committee has requested an extension to gather more information, said Ms. Benchley.

The committee was formed after a group of five Princeton High School students came before Council at the end of February to voice concerns over the lack of parking for students during construction at the high school. According to the students, a high level of ticketing on Moore and Houghton streets commenced shortly after construction began.

According to Borough Police, 1,549 parking tickets were issued in the Borough in December 2003. That increased drastically to 3,198 in February, and to 3,426 in March.

"I certainly know that there was a huge difference in ticketing around the high school ... after January 1," said Anne Burns, president of the School Board.

Ms. Burns, who recently met with the ad hoc committee, said she has been receiving numerous phone calls from parents and students about parking problems since the start of construction. She said that the committee is working with area representatives to come up with a solution to the problem.

"I think we're coming up with some solutions," said Ms. Burns. "They will involve comprises, though."

While parking at the high school has been an ongoing problem, it increased with the onset of expansion and renovation in December. A 100-space faculty parking lot was removed at the high school, and replaced by a temporary lot at John Witherspoon Middle School.

Rather than use the designated lot, many high school faculty members and construction workers have been parking in long-term parking spaces around the high school building, forcing students to park in spots marked for two-hour parking. Students unable to run out between classes in time to move their cars have received numerous parking tickets from Borough Police.

School Superintendent Claire Sheff Kohn tried to alleviate the problem by requesting that all construction workers park in the John Witherspoon parking lot, and leave more spaces near the high school for students. However students have continued to park in short term parking spaces and continue to receive parking tickets.

At the February Council meeting, students requested that Council place a moratorium on ticketing around the high school to alleviate the problem. However Council decided instead to wait for a report from the ad hoc committee.

Ms. Benchley said that because some members of the committee will be unavailable to present the group's ideas in May, it will present its proposal at either the June 1 or June 9 Council meeting.

"Right now we have some proposals, but we need to finalize them," said Ms. Benchley.

Following the presentation to Council, the committee intends to present its ideas to the Township Committee, and the School Board, said Ms. Benchley.

"We're looking for a long term, holistic solution to the problem," she said.

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