NISKAYUNA – With the Niskayuna schools capital improvement project underway at the high school, some students might need to park elsewhere because of a reduction in spaces.
The district broke ground on the multimillion-dollar capital improvement project on April 20. The project includes improvements to athletic facilities as well as updates to buildings across the district.
Taxpayers approved two separate referendums regarding the work in 2021:
- A $62.2 million referendum that includes the bulk of the work and would maintain current tax rates by replacing the district’s old debt.
- A $16.8 million referendum that would focus extra work on improving district athletic facilities and would carry a tax increase estimated at $28 for a home valued at $100,000 over two years.
Work on the high school athletic fields has led to a reduction of 70 parking spaces normally accessible to students.
“Temporary reduction in parking available at the high school through the spring and summer was an anticipated inconvenience of this phase of the capital project and was scheduled so the impact during the school year would be minimized, with most of the parking changes taking place from now through the fall,” said district spokesman Roberto LoBianco.
Once the work is completed in the fall, full use of the high school parking lot will be restored with additional parking spaces and roadway improvements to improve traffic flow.
To help mitigate parking and traffic issues, the district worked with both the town and ShopRite Square to provide parking to students at no cost in the shopping plaza and at Town Hall.
“All students who purchased a parking permit for the 2021-22 school year can park in the high school’s Balltown Road lot,” LoBianco said. “The number of staff parking spaces at the high school has not been impacted.”
The changes have been communicated to students and families, he said.
Students are being reminded by staff and administrators to drive safely and be courteous when making use of the community parking locations.
Parking was already an issue at the high school even before ground was broken on the facilities portion of the capital project.
“I’ve noticed if you come after first block there’s no parking spots left, so kids have been making their own parking spots, which has been interesting,” said Maya Gerstenbluth, a student representative to the board of education, during the board’s April 12 meeting.
She said part of the issue might be students who drive to school but don’t have a parking pass.
Gerstenbluth also said aggressive driving in the high school parking lots has been a problem.
“There’s been a lot of aggressive driving by parents and probably students, too,” she said. “Just a reminder that this is a school environment, and I don’t think aggressive driving in a school environment is appropriate. We’re just trying to get to school safely, so don’t flip us off.”
Gerstenbluth said during the April 26 school board meeting that parking is still “messy.” She said she knew of some students who were told that they would have their cars towed at a cost of $250 if they continued to park incorrectly.
LoBianco said the district is aware of the parking challenges.
“As part of their regular monitoring of the high school campus, campus supervisors rotate through the parking lot and address issues when they observe them and based on the circumstances,” he said. “The parking lot is also monitored by security cameras.”
LoBianco said roadway improvements and additional parking spaces are also part of the plan.
On top of the construction at the school, there is ongoing work on Nott Street as part of a project the county is doing to improve pedestrian and traffic safety in the area.
Niskayuna Police Chief Jordan Kochan said he has not seen any major traffic issues in the area.
But, he said, that could change as work continues.
“I recommend drivers continue to have patience with the traffic patterns if this is their normal route,” he said in an email. “The Niskayuna Police Department will continue to be in communication with the Niskayuna school district regarding the ongoing project, and will work with them to address any traffic issues moving forward. Thank you to our local commuters for their patience with all of our ongoing local projects.”
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.