At its meeting Tuesday night, the Auburn City Council heard an update from the City on the parking and traffic situation during times of student drop-off and pickup at Auburn Junior High School, with Auburn Police Chief Cedric Anderson indicating that it was improving.
The main issue revolves around parents parking along the street in the Terrace Acres neighborhood while they are waiting to pick up their children from Auburn Junior High School on Dean Road. Over the course of the past month or so, the City has sent Allison Blankenship, the neighborhood specialist, school resource officers, and Auburn Police Division supervisors to monitor the situation to determine what was causing the issue, according to Anderson, who added that during the last couple weeks he has positioned patrol officers on Terrace Acres Drive to also monitor the situation.
"As long as we're there and we're monitoring, there's no issues," he said. "But the minute that marked unit leaves the parents will roll through, they will pick up students and drive off."
Anderson indicated that the issue is only occurring in the afternoons, with the parents showing up typically about 30 minutes before school lets out at 3:30.
Mayor Pro Tem Beth Witten, who has a daughter at AJHS, said the school has reached out to parents to improve the situation.
"We get this, if not every day, every other day a phone call, communications encouraging parents not to park or not to be on Terrace Acres," said Witten. "I think it's frustrating that, between the school system sending out communications and trying to improve the situation at the school and our efforts with public safety, that people can't act better."
With officers present over the past few weeks in Terrace Acres, the problem has shifted from parents parking to parents just rolling through the neighborhood waiting on the child to be let out of school.
"What they do now, instead of parking on Terrace Acres, is they circle the block until their student gets to Terrace Acres, they quickly jump in the car and drive off," Anderson said. "It doesn't give the officer ... an opportunity to contact them or do anything else."
Anderson said they have had discussions with AJHS officials and made suggestions on how to best alleviate the traffic that backs up on Dean Road. One suggestion is to use the vacant space they have that used to be used by high-schoolers to park.
"The junior high right now is the old high school, which has got two very large parking lots — one is on the south end and the other is on the north end. And so we've made the suggestion to use that available space to get some of those cars off the roadway," Anderson said. "We're hoping that eliminating some of those cars on the roadway will take away that need for people to park over on Terrace Acres.
"We're seeing the problem ease up a little bit. It has gotten better. It's not completely resolved, but we've seen significant improvements since day one."
City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch said the City will give further reports on the issue at future Council meetings.