Two residents came before the Great Neck Board of Education to object to a 97-stall student parking lot for North High School on Thursday, saying they “never anticipated” the level of disruption it could bring and that the schools did not properly inform Beach Road residents.
The lot in question, a $652,000 part of the $68.3 million revised bond voters approved in May last year, would be at the corner of Beach and Polo Road.
It was bundled into a package, which trustees presented to the public, of critical infrastructure repairs and educational building enhancements assembled by a special committee.
Jessica Jacob, an obstetrician living on Beach Road, highlighted the beauty of the neighborhood and how being “surrounded by nature” helped her wind down after a long day.
Now, she said, trees are being chopped down as a huge parking lot is being created for high school seniors.
“There are places for them to park – I don’t think we need to turn over this beautiful green area,” Jacob told trustees. “It will change the whole quality of our immediate neighborhood and I would so appreciate consideration being made to change this plan.”
Great Neck Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz thanked her for her comment.
Ruth Gebay, another Beach Road resident, said the creation of this parking lot is also creating an unsafe environment.
She said there is plenty of space at the Parkwood parking lot, the new parking lot will aggravate already present water issues on their block, and it incentivizes “reckless drivers in expensive cars” going around the area. She also noted “dark transactions” going on in the area where people are “exchanging packages.”
“When we voted for the bond, we wanted to make it better for our schools,” Gebay said. “We never anticipated that the parking lot is going to be so disruptive to our own personal environment and that the board would make those decisions without even consulting the neighborhood and the people on the block.”
“It’s a huge expenditure that could go towards school and finances and education, instead of going to a parking spot that is a luxury,” she added.
Dr. Teresa Prendergast, the superintendent of the Great Neck Public Schools, said the schools have security patrols but she wants to “find out if there are any specific concerns.” She and Berkowitz recommended that anyone seeing any questionable actions occurring on school grounds call their security number directly at 441-4911.
School board members and administrators have previously defended the decision to include the new parking lot, describing them as items not “treated lightly,” “of paramount importance to the population of those buildings” and having been presented to the community.
They have also said it reflects a reality that many of their students drive, have jobs and that restrictive village regulations on parking can’t be changed to alleviate the issues.