Flooding, traffic concerns surround new parking lot for Jefferson Junior High School

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | 6:57 p.m. CDT; updated 6:30 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 12, 2010
A plot of grass at the corner of Sixth Street and Hickman Avenue is the proposed location for a new parking lot intended to alleviate traffic congestion for parents dropping off their children at Jefferson Junior High School.

COLUMBIA — A new parking lot for Jefferson Junior High School would solve some problems for parents needing to drop off or pick up children, but some neighbors are concerned about the potential for more flooding.

The issue is building the parking lot at the corner of Hickman Avenue and north Sixth Street would create additional stormwater runoff and overwhelm management systems.

Meeting on parking lot

What: Informational meeting for the community to review and discuss plans for the new parking lot.

When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30

Where: Media center, Jefferson Junior High School, 713 Rogers St.

More information about Columbia’s stormwater requirements can be found on the city's website, in addition to the city’s Storm Water Manual.

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Resident Pat Fowler’s home is closest to the proposed location of the new lot. She said she already experiences flooding in her basement when it rains. Other factors, such as the lack of a curb in front of her house, make it easier for water to reach the foundation of her home, she said.

“I’ve had neighbors who have had sewage come up through their pipes before,” Fowler said.

Fowler supports the lot and said it is necessary to help alleviate unsafe traffic conditions. Currently, parents needing to make quick stops and park outside the school are creating problems for residents and through-traffic on Rogers Street.

The addition of a lot with short-term parking, where parking would be limited to half an hour, would decrease the number of vehicles in the road and reduce barriers to driver vision, said Gregery Caine, principal of Jefferson Junior High School.

The number of stops by parents also is expected to increase in three years when younger students begin attending the school . The junior high school will become an intermediate school for grades six through eight when the district reconfigures grade levels in 2013.

Because Jefferson is set between residential streets and Columbia College, there are few options for the parking lot's location, said Nick Boren, deputy superintendent for administration for Columbia Public Schools. The space at Sixth and Hickman would prevent parents shepherding children from feeling forced to double-park or stop in illegal areas. 

“We don’t want to put parents in that position,” Boren said.

The new lot would replace faculty parking on the north side of the school. About 13 spots displaced by the change would be added to an already-existing lot on Hickman Avenue.

The lot also would be reconfigured and restriped to maximize the number of spaces, said David Bennett, vice president of engineering for Engineering Surveys and Services.

Fowler has been working with other members of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association and said she would like the lot to include grading that would run into an existing stormwater box or box culvert next to her house.

She said she also hopes the school district will install a rain garden next to the lot with pollution- and rain-tolerant vegetation to help trap and slow the flow of stormwater runoff.

Bennett, who had discussed preliminary design ideas with Fowler, said installing a rain garden is a possibility, but is not part of current plans because its addition would take up space and might defeat the purpose of the project: maximizing parking space.

“Obviously, you don’t park in the rain garden,” Bennett said. “We’re trying to get the best benefit for the schools and still meet the (city's) ordinances.”

Because clay soils found in the area do not allow water to run through, the plan by Engineering Surveys and Services would include a pervious pavement surface to meet those ordinances, which cover both quantity and quality of water.

The pavement would allow water to filter through into a rock basin and sub-draining system underneath, rather than run straight off the surface. The draining underneath would then tie into the existing stormwater box, managing the quantity of water as well as filtering it according to code requirements.

No plans have yet been finalized and will need to be presented to the city for approval. Assuming this happens, construction on the lot is likely to begin in October, Boren said.

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Patrick earney August 11, 2010 | 7:49 p.m.

Your "previous pavement" should be "pervious". It's much like a regular concrete or asphalt pavement, however the aggregates are graded with few small particles such that gaps are left between the large aggregates, allowing water to pass through.

(Report Comment)
LeeAnn Elias August 11, 2010 | 8:14 p.m.

Hi Patrick -

Thanks for pointing it out! The word probably got switched when going through the copy desk if someone was unfamiliar with the terminology in the story.

- LeeAnn Elias, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Laura Johnston August 11, 2010 | 8:25 p.m.

The change has been made. Thanks for keeping us alert to errors.

Laura Johnston, news editor

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