Students' cars on street irk residents

Some who live along Dakota Road vent frustration to town

Hampstead

June 09, 2000|By Deborah Bach | Deborah Bach,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Half a dozen cars might have been bearable.

But residents of Dakota Road in Hampstead say the number has grown over the past few months to more than 50 vehicles from nearby North Carroll High School regularly parked along the street. About a dozen neighbors attended a town council meeting this week to complain about speeding, swearing, garbage and noise they say is creating a nuisance and a safety hazard.

Charles Cassetta said the teen motorists are disrespectful to residents and frequently leave soda cans, fast-food wrappers - and in one case, a box of buck-shot shells - on the ground.

"With the trash that's on the street, our property value is going to go down," Cassetta said. "It'd be very difficult for us to sell in that situation."

Michele Barlow said the presence of inexperienced drivers on a street with two licensed day care centers is a dangerous combination.

Today is the last day of classes before the summer break, but Barlow predicted that the situation will worsen next school year. She said she'll move from her home of four years if something isn't done.

"I work hard, even though I'm disabled, to have a nice home and nice things," Barlow said.

Police have sent letters to the parents of the alleged offenders, asking for support in addressing the complaints. North Carroll Principal Gary Dunkleberger said he's aware of residents' complaints but there's little he can do.

"We have no authority to prohibit students from parking there," he said.

Dunkleberger attributed the problem to a combination of development and shifting trends. When the school opened in 1975, he said, teens had less access to cars and fewer drove to school. The school now enrolls about 1,460 students, Dunkleberger said, and there's a waiting list for the 400 student parking spots.

Bus service is available to all students within the school's enrollment area, Dunkleberger said, but it isn't feasible for everyone. Parking permits are issued to students who live out of the enrollment area, are disabled, have after-school jobs, participate in extracurricular activities or academic internships, or divide time between high school and college.

Dunkleberger disputed assertions that the teens annoying Dakota residents were denied parking permits over academic or disciplinary issues, saying it's simply a matter of demand exceeding supply.

"I don't have a solution other than more parking spaces here," he said. "But the reality is there's a finite number right now."

At this week's meeting, Mayor Christopher M. Nevin said resident-only parking restrictions have been effective in another Hampstead neighborhood, but Michael Oles, president of the Shiloh Run Homeowners Association, said a more permanent solution is needed. Restricting parking on Dakota, Oles said, would only push the students onto surrounding streets, and teens would still be walking through the area on the way to school.

"This really is a school issue," Oles said. "The school is way undersized for the number of students."

Nevin suggested residents lobby the school board for funding to increase parking at the school but said any expenditure likely wouldn't come until next year since the board just approved a facilities master plan. "Whatever viable solution you come up with, you won't get any hassle from here," Nevin said. "You guys agree on a plan of action, we'll stand there with you."

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