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Published August 09, 2011, 06:32 PM

City, Central HS Working on Downtown Parking Problem

If you park in downtown Grand Forks during the school year, you may notice an issue this fall. It's caused by Central High School construction, and the loss of a parking lot.

If you park in downtown Grand Forks during the school year, you may notice an issue this fall.

It's caused by Central High School construction, and the loss of a parking lot.

The school is working with the city on possible parking solutions including the possibility of constructing two new parking lots.

"Parking this year is going to be an issue at Grand Forks Central and I feel bad about that but it's going to be a fact," Grand Forks school district business manager Bill Hutchison said.

It's an issue that started with the loss of a lot near the old Civic Auditorium.

"The city is going to let us lease 165 spots in the Central ramp," Hutchison said.

The school previously had 140 spots but only 30 to 40 were used by students. Now, with construction on the school and new apartments being built in the area, school officials are hoping more students will take advantage of the space.

"We're also working with the city to try to build two other parking lots down there, it's not finalized yet," Hutchison said.

The city is looking at buying a new lot for extra parking, but some city council members aren't on board.

"It seems to me bad to be taking what should be residential area and turning it into a parking lot," council member Eliot Glassheim said.

"We are selling them our parking lot and then at some point the new parking lot will go to the residents that take over the rest of the block so where are our employees going to park?" council member Dana Sande said.

The proposed new lot would have 62 spaces, which would put the school at about 350 spaces, about what they need to meet city code.

Although nothing is set in stone yet, both the school and city are trying to come up with short and long term solutions.

"What we would really like to do is, the city has a lot for employees basically across from the Central Gym we'd like to when we build this first, eventually exchange the parking so the kids are closer to the school and the city hall employees are closer to city hall," urban development director Greg Hoover said.

School officials are continuing to meet with the city on parking and students will be notified before school starts on parking availability.

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