In reference to “Residents key in on OPRF garage demolition” [News, Nov. 24], our purpose here is not to debate details but to provide perspective on parking around OPRF High School.

In 1982, we moved to our home on the 200 block of North Elmwood, just one block from the front door of OPRF. In the 1990s, faculty, staff, and student parking was daily on both sides of most north-south residential streets near the high school. Most visitors to the occasional special events found parking on all available streets, as they do now, and walked 5-10 minutes to the school.

It was commonplace for residents closest to the school to have to clean up daily after lunch hour when students would visit their cars and enjoy socializing while listening to music and having lunch, often brought from nearby fast food shops. In good weather, students might enjoy relaxing on the parkway, now with music louder, and often not taking their lunch wrappings with them.

Since 1999, improvements have included: 

Scoville becoming one way for better security after the Columbine shootings and the 9/11 attack. 

The garage was built, removing all faculty, staff and student parking from most all north-south residential, non-arterial streets on school days only, not evenings or weekends. 

Most important, the campus was closed at lunch to freshman and sophomores, and juniors and seniors were allowed in and out at lunch as a privilege, and only through the west side of the building onto the mall.

As much as we support and enjoy providing a fine high school for our youth, we have also come to enjoy the order, quiet, and clean streets of the lunchtime hours. And we are pleased that the new parking plan by the Transportation Commission will require only 10-11 faculty and staff cars each school day on each of most nearby north-south streets.

In the 1990s, this change would have been viewed as a significant and highly-valued improvement. Neighbors would have been very appreciative of the village and school for its responsiveness to residents, who, incidentally, had often chosen to live near this community resource for the benefit of their own children — e.g., our two and many of our neighbors’ youth.

We’re sorry about losing the garage. However, reflecting on neighborhood history and the benefits of our location, we welcome the school board’s decision to keep precious green space and create a pool that meets our community’s high expectations for the education and recreation of our youth. We accept it as a well-studied and timely solution, and appreciate how little will be the additional impact on our privileged neighborhood.

Mena and David Boulanger

Oak Park

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