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Bedford eyes off-campus high school parking fee

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

July 05. 2017 8:44PM


BEDFORD — Town officials are studying a proposal to ease student parking problems at Bedford High School.

Currently, the high school sells about 325 student parking permits each year through a lottery system that provides parking for some seniors and juniors.

The town estimates an additional 200 students park for free in various town-owned lots near the school.

Now councilors are considering charging students $125 per year for a parking permit — the same price as a high school parking permit.

The program would provide students with assigned spots at Sportsman Field parking lot on Nashua Road, the Riley Field dirt parking lot on Nashua Road or the parking lot at the town pool and tennis court area on County Road.

Although the town council previously voted to sell 170 parking permits per year, the board last week tabled a vote on a proposed ordinance that would govern and enforce parking on the town-owned lots.

“There are some appealing elements to this,” Police Chief John Bryfonski said, noting students will no longer have to get to school early to secure a parking spot because they would have assigned parking spaces in the town lots.

If a student is parked in another student’s spot, Bryfonski said the vehicle would be towed and the owner would be responsible for paying $150 to have their car returned.

“We do have a lot of things to figure out in this first year,” said Rick Sawyer, town manager, adding it will take six or seven years for the permit revenue to pay off paving costs for the town lots.

The permits could garner about $21,000 annually; the total cost of paving is expected to be about $120,000, according to town officials. It would cost an extra $3,000 a year to stripe and number the spaces, plus about $500 for the annual permit production costs.

Town officials stressed that even with the 170 parking spaces, there would still not be enough parking to accommodate all of the sophomore, junior and senior drivers.

“Obviously we are all aware there is no place to park at that high school,” Maureen Delamater of Tavistock Drive told the town council last week during a public hearing on the proposal.

She emphasized the need for sophomores who obtain their driver’s licenses halfway through the school year to be able to have access to parking permits, as well as juniors who get their licenses in the fall when all of the permits are already taken.

Melissa Gallagher, a junior at Bedford High School, suggested that the town-owned parking continue to be free, or at least less than $125.

“I am not entirely comfortable with this process,” said Kelleigh Murphy, town council chairman. She said the student parking issue should be under the purview of the school district, adding there are likely pitfalls to the plan that have not yet been considered.

School officials are expected to discuss the matter further on July 19.

khoughton@newstote.com


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