Parking Matters Project, parents concerned about St. Vincent’s Academy students

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Concerns surrounding parking in downtown Savannah was a hot button issue Monday night as community members expressed their concerns to city leaders at the Parking Matters meeting.

With zones now changing under the city’s parking project, students at St. Vincent’s Academy, the private catholic school off Liberty Street, would now have to pay for where they park.

That could add up to more than $150 a month.

“I’m concerned about the additional costs associated with having her park or carpool down to St. Vincent’s,” Susan Broker, the parent of a future student, said.

Now, those parents are trying to search for a solution that will work for everyone.

“What I’m most encouraged about is the city officials saying that they’re going to work with us,” Broker said.

However, the school has tried working with the city before.

“We are so willing to compromise, to come to a good solution and I think that our parents and our students have come up with some really viable solutions,” MaryAnn Hogan, the principal of St. Vincent’s Academy, said.

And the city hasn’t come up short on offers.
“We’ve offered a much reduced parking spaces in the garage,” Bill Durrence, the alderman of District 2, said. “They’ve rejected that notion, so I don’t know how much more we can do.”

Parents and faculty said it’s too dangerous for teenage high school girls to park in the garage.

“That’s really challenging because of the safety concern,” Hogan said. “We’re very concerned with young girls, especially our girls come very early in the morning and leave late after sports practices.”

Hogan said another possible solution is to have stickers for the students similar to residential stickers for those who live downtown.

“The girls are only there from August to May and we’re there from the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., so it would be really reasonable to buy just a seasonable pass for students and faculty,” Hogan said.

City officials won’t reject the idea, but they did say that it’s unlikely it will work.

“If we give that that consideration, then who else do we have to give special consideration,” Durrence said. “That’s the problem with all these kind of exceptions and exemptions everybody’s asking for. The city has tried to make several offers to St. Vincent’s to work out some sort of approach to dealing with that and I haven’t heard anything back other than complaints that we just need to leave it alone.”

Carpooling was another idea, but Georgia state law prohibits a 16-year-old from driving with non-relatives for the first six months of having a license. The next meeting will be on May 10th at the Savannah Civic Center.

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