District will reconsider proposed downtown Grand Forks parking lot
The Grand Forks Public School District will reconsider a new Central High School parking lot following a discussion of downtown parking by area stakeholders.
After a meeting of the Downtown Parking Study Review Committee Thursday, School District Superintendent Larry Nybladh said the district will continue leasing parking spots in the city-owned ramp next to Central High School this school year. The lease will be updated for 97 spots, bringing the school’s number of parking spots to 303.
Nybladh also said he would discuss with the Grand Forks Public School Board whether the district wants to continue pursuing building a new parking lot at the corner of North Fifth Street and University Avenue.
The parking lot project has faced controversy as the district wants to demolish the former Executive Corners office building and two houses it owns there for the lot. Some city officials and other downtown advocates raised concerns about whether a new lot is necessary when several parking lots are not fully used throughout downtown.
Also, City Council tabled the district’s rezoning request for the two houses, making it illegal for the district to move forward in demolishing those. The School District could still legally turn Executive Corners into a parking lot, but has held off, pending discussions of the parking committee.
Before the project was questioned by city officials and others, the district had planned to have then new parking lot ready for this school year.
Nybladh said he would bring ideas from the downtown parking committee’s discussions to the School Board Facilities Committee and see what School Board members have to say.
City Council member Bret Weber said Nybladh’s agreeing to use the parking ramp again this school year and reconsidering the Executive Corners parking lot “saved the day” Tuesday after the downtown parking committee had been meeting for almost two hours.
During the meeting, which was the committee’s second, several other compromises were suggested.
Weber said the ramp has security cameras and is well-lit, which is presumably safer for students. An apartment building near the Executive Corners site receives frequent police calls, he said, and Officer Mark Nelson of the Grand Forks Police Department agreed.
Upon school officials insisting that students won’t use parking spaces designated to them in the ramp, City Council President Dana Sande suggested the city trade its employee parking lot to Central High and have city employees use the parking ramp, though school officials disagreed with it.