Troublesome parking lot to see upgrades

Rudy Norman
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School parking lot will finally be paved, says MHA

The parking lot of MSB Regional Academy is a problem around this time, every year, says Lyndon Austin.
The spring run-off of melting snow and water cause a very messy condition for the gravel parking lot.

“It’s awful,” says Austin, who has three children attending the K-12 school. “There’s nowhere to park up there because the parking lot is basically just one big pool of water.”

Austin says there’s only room for a couple of cars to park in dry parts of the area where parents pick up children from school, and where students board the school buses for transportation to Burlington and Smith’s Harbour.

“It’s just a steady stream of potholes – I almost got the bottom beat off my car from riding over it,” he said.

Austin makes the trip over the parking lot eight times a day, and drives 2.2km each time from his house to the school to either pick up or drop off his children.

While he lives outside the 1.6 km where students are eligible to be busses to school, he doesn’t live on a bus route, and there aren’t 10 children nearby to cause the bus to come in his direction. Thus, Austin is forced to make the trek himself.

“I’m starting to get sick of it now, because having to beat over that every day in this day an age isn’t necessary,” he says. Austin is among a number of parents of children who attend the school that have voiced their concerns about condition of the parking lot.

Social media has lit up with complaints. Prior to Easter, a plan was developing to hold a protest about the state of the parking lot, says Austin. However, that plan was put on hold.

“We were asked by the administration to hold off on it, because something was in the works,” he said. When the children came off for Easter break, parents suspected something would take place during that time, which would help the situation. According to Austin, nothing did.

“They didn’t do a thing – it’s still a state, and it’s not good enough.”

Austin says it was his understanding that the protest was cancelled based on a promise from MHA Kevin Pollard that something was in the works.

When reached for comment this week, Pollard says he first learned about the problem through social media.

Crystal Prous, a student at MSB Academy in Middle Arm, posted a note on the MHA’s Facebook page, with photos.

She wrote, “This is what every person including myself has to drive threw (sic) to get to school. It is becoming worse and worse (sic) for the vehicles every day, also becoming a hazard for the children. I think it's about time to get something done with these conditions.”

The MHA commented on the post, writing , “I agree! See if I can.”

Pollard says he knows now that the people of Middle Arm and the students at the school have been patient on this issue in the past.

“I understand this is a problem that’s been going on a number of years,” he said in an interview. “But the first time I heard anything about it since I’ve been MHA is a few weeks ago, when that student sent me a photo on Facebook and asked me if I could do something.”

Pollard says he actually received the post while he was sitting in the House of Assembly, and was able to speak with Education Minister Clyde Jackman right away.

“I went over to where he was and showed him the picture the girl sent me, and he agreed that something needed to be done,” he said.

In the next days, MHA Pollard says he received word back from the Minister’s office that the parking lot at MSB Regional Academy will be paved later this year.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education confirmed that for TC Media earlier this week.

However, for parents like Lyndon Austin, he says he’s heard that before.

“They’ve said that before, and it hasn’t been done,” he said. “The pavement was supposed to be on that parking lot ages ago, and it’s still not there.”

For Pollard, though, he said he feels the promise from the Education minister that it’s coming will mean the work will be done.

“I have the Minister’s commitment that it’s going to be done, and I believe that,” he said. “If we don’t get it, then I think the people have every right to protest – and if that’s the case, then I’ll lead the way.”

 

Organizations: MSB Regional Academy, Department of Education

Geographic location: Burlington, Middle Arm

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