by Eric Hagen
On school days from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., nobody can park in the small parking lot on the southwest corner of Sunshine Park in Andover, which is by the new skateboard park. This change went into effect Monday, Jan. 9.
The action by the Andover City Council came at its Dec. 20 meeting in light of concerns raised by the city about students parking at the lot when there are plenty of spots available at the nearby Andover High School parking lot. One concern was the amount of littering that took place.
Park and Recreation Commission chairperson Ted Butler said during a joint Nov. 29 council and commission meeting that the parking lot is an absolute mess with garbage all over the place.
This move by the council does not impact the larger parking lot on the north side of Sunshine Park near Andover Elementary School.
“You’re never going to get 100 percent compliance, but if you hit them in the pocketbook, it’s going to have an effect,” Councilmember Mike Knight said.
One reason why students may have been parking at Sunshine Park and walking across Crosstown Boulevard to get to the school is because the Sunshine Park lot has free parking, while Andover High School charges $33 per trimester for a parking permit.
Assistant Principal Sean Beggin said the school is offering a temporary pro-rated deal for this trimester due to the change in city policy. There is plenty of parking available at the school, he said.
Now that the city will not allow parking at this lot on school days, the city’s public works department will stop plowing the lot during the winter.
City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz said the lot would be chained off so nobody can drive in the lot and get stuck when the snow falls. People could be issued parking tickets if they illegally park during school days from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Councilmember Julie Trude was the only member of the council who voted against the no parking restriction. Her concern was the students would find another spot to park for free and the city would essentially be pushing the problems elsewhere.
“I think it’s just going to cause kids to park in front of people’s homes,” Trude said.
According to Berkowitz, the city does not allow parking north of the high school in the Woodland Estates development or south of Sunshine Park on 148th Avenue where parking is restricted during the school day.
Trude said if the city was having problems with littering, they could work with the high school on cleaning this up.
Berkowitz said there have been discussions in the past with the school and city staff about the littering problem and it has not improved.
Mayor Mike Gamache said students should be parking in the designated parking lots.
“The school does provide adequate parking for their high school students just like Anoka High School does, Coon Rapids High School does,” Gamache said. “There is really no reason for Andover to supply additional parking off-site for whatever reason they are using it.”
“They can pay for a parking permit like the rest of the students do that are parked in that parking lot.”
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org