SHIRLEY — Dozens of parking complaints during the school year prompted police Chief Paul Thibodeau to coordinate a resolution to the ongoing problems with Department of Public Works Director Joseph Lynch.
Last year on School Street, which runs adjacent to Lura A. White School, residents reported that drivers were parking their cars too close to their driveways, said Thibodeau, as well as parking in the fire lane when visiting the school.
The fire lane was marked by signs, said Lynch, but apparently the signs were not enough to deter the visitors.
First, Lynch said he and Thibodeau had to reach an understanding about what the problem was. During the school day, he said access to the street from Lancaster Road narrowed because vehicles were parked on both sides.
The narrowed passageway between vehicles could hinder ambulance and fire response, said Thibodeau. It also caused some traffic backup to the Lancaster Road intersection, he said.
Several weeks ago Lynch measured the distance between the driveways on the left side of the road, as well as additional space on the right side beside the playing fields. Even with a four-foot buffer on either side of each driveway, the number of available parking spaces totals 33, he said.
Three weeks ago, the public works department took these measurements on the road and painted lines to help visitors properly park their vehicles.
Visitors may not have been using the area on the right and left side of the road after the gym, said Lynch. Perhaps with the painted lines, he said, people will begin to use that area.
“They may have to walk a little,” he said.
School Street resident Holly Haase hopes the lines will help, she said. Larger vehicles such as SUVs have parked very close to her driveway in the past, she said, which often blocked her ability to see oncoming traffic while pulling out of her driveway.
There is a parking lot for the school opposite the road, which she said teachers and school personnel should be required to use.
“Courtesy should be the first thing,” she said.
In addition to the guidelines for parallel parking next to the school, the Department of Public Works has painted clear lines that say “Fire Lane” on the right side of the street beside the island that separates the road from the school’s driveway.
Drop-offs can still take place on the right, said Lynch, but no one should leave their vehicles unattended so they can move if emergency vehicles need to pass.
“It will give us a little easier access,” said fire Chief Dennis Levesque. “There were times during the day it was a little tight.”