JFK’s New Parking Lot: Fix or Failure? (Opinion)
By Chris Fetros, Bobby Jones, and Damien Bresci
“Does the Kennedy parking lot still suck?”
Last summer I visited my sister down in San Diego. She had attended a school that was not JFK (and shall not be named), but nevertheless, that was her first question.
Of course, she was talking about Kennedy’s old parking lot, which was simply part of the school’s atmosphere. For those of you on campus who did not have the joy of experiencing the old parking lot, don’t worry -- you didn’t miss out on anything.
Even though I didn’t -- and still don’t -- drive, the flaws with the original parking lot were not only painstakingly obvious but quite substantial. Kennedy was in dire need of a new parking lot. And that’s why I was quite happy when I heard a new parking lot was being put in over the summer. It seemed the general consensus was the same, judging by the reactions of my fellow 4th period class.
When the first day of school rolled around I was eager -- not for my new schedule, new teacher, or new classes -- but the new parking lot.
To my shock, it was somehow even more confusing than the original -- which I had thought to be impossible.
So what went wrong?
A good place to start would be comparing the new parking lot to the old one. There was only one entrance, which also doubled as the entrance for the guest lot. Having this single entrance meant that it always was a slow slog before and after school.
Worse, this entrance was directly in front of drop off -- meaning that the already bumper-to-bumper traffic was being held up by the front of the line constantly stopping for several seconds. This is what really caused the backup, and this caused only more problems as Gloria was backed up in both directions, which first blocked the Gloria exit, then backed up the right turn off of Florin, which then blocked the only other exit. Most days the line was so long that it was faster to get dropped off at Florin and walk the rest of the distance to school, which is what I did most of last year.
This was the big problem with the lot, and inconvenienced not only parents dropping their kids off and students trying to park, but also normal people just trying to drive by the school.
In addition to this, the actual lot was set up horribly. Two rows could only use the Gloria exit, which meant that many people did not use these rows, or went the wrong way on the one-way exit to get to Florin.
Another issue with the overall setup was that if you went down a row and found no open spaces, you had to exit the lot and re-enter it because all of the rows went the same direction. Most people did not want to do this, which resulted in a lot of cars going the wrong way into an influx of oblivious students. It's a miracle there weren’t any serious accidents.
Now, it’s out with the old and in with the new! There’s now two entrances, both on Gloria, and while they kind of seem redundant due to their close proximity, they do keep traffic moving. The routing for drop off now loops drivers around the entire lot, and it certainly seems like the line moves quicker.
Aiding in that fact is that students driving themselves don’t have to wait in the entire line -- they can instead simply enter the rows before the line starts.
These are all good things, but there’s still an issue: all of the rows are one-way, but which direction each is seems random. In reality, it’s every other row, which is confusing -- in my opinion, even more confusing than the original. The amount of parking spaces has also decreased, but for normal school days there’s more than enough.
One of the issues that was passed down to the next generation by our slain old lot was the Florin exit. This exit is in a terrible position, as to take the left turn lane you have to immediately cut across two lanes of traffic on the busiest road in the Greenhaven area. This is not an easy task, and since a large population of the school comes from the area, that U-turn is necessary.
This creates multiple problems. Just yesterday I was stuck in a line several cars deep while the leader was waiting for an opportunity to jump into that turn lane. This is also an issue to public safety, as if a driver were to attempt the jump without enough clearance there would be an extremely bad accident.
In addition, another issue is the aforementioned one-way rows. Since some rows lead directly to the Florin exit and others to the Gloria exit, I’ve seen many, many drivers ignore the direction they’re supposed to go in order to get to the exit they desire. This also happens when drivers are searching for a spot; since the spots on the rows that are the right way from the entrance are generally filled first, many people ignore the direction of the row and head down it with no regard to other’s safety in order to park a few seconds quicker.
This issue could be easily solved if we had a traffic cop to issue tickets, but we are stretched for security just on campus, so extending that to include the parking lot is improbable.
So is the new parking lot better than the old one? The simple answer is yes. I’m certainly not missing that miles-long line extending along Florin and Gloria. It’s only going to get better, too; some time down the road (or is it "lot"?), solar panels are slated to be installed, which will provide both shade and power, as well as EV parking stalls.
This certainly doesn’t fix the underlying issues, but it does lessen the blow. And who knows? Maybe by the time your kids attend Kennedy a new, better, parking lot will be waiting for them.