Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School is one step closer to expanding its parking lot, as the James City County Planning Commission voted last night to recommend the Board of Supervisors approve a special use permit for the project.
Alan Robertson, facilities management coordinator for Williamsburg-James City County Schools, said as the school’s population has increased and parents have become more involved, providing adequate parking has become a challenge.
“Anytime there’s a PTA meeting, back-to-school night, a play, anything that brings people in, you’ll find people parking all over the grass, on the driveway,” Robertson said. “It’s not a safe condition and it’s not very good for the environment. That’s when we try to add more parking so it works better for people who use our buildings.”
The school division has proposed expanding the parking lot from 101 spaces to 152 spaces. The expansion will include an addition of three handicap spaces, raising the total to six.
The proposed project would also include improvements to the existing parking lot, landscaping and a complete restriping of the lot, Robertson said.
The Board of Supervisors will approve or deny the special use permit during a regular meeting early next year. Upon the completion of a final site plan review, Robertson said the project would be put out for a bid, most likely in February.
He said he anticipates the school division will award a contract in the spring and the contractor will begin the work once school is out for the summer.
The school division budgeted $290,000 for the project in its Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Improvement Plan.
The reconfiguration of the parking lot due to the expansion will not require a change to the traffic flow, but the school’s administration would be free to change the flow as it sees fit, said Paul Tschiderer of AES Consulting Engineers, who applied for the special use permit on behalf of the school division.
Many WJCC schools, including D.J. Montague Elementary School and Toano Middle School, have expanded their parking lots in recent years. Tschiderer said he believes the Clara Byrd Baker lot, as it is laid and currently configured, is original to the school’s opening in 1989.