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SPECIAL REPORT: Parking is precious in one East El Paso neighborhood

Parking in an East El Paso neighborhood is precious as Eastwood High School is in the middle of a reconstruction project that forced students and faculty to park off-campus.

Teachers have guaranteed parking, but students are turning to street-side parking instead of the designated lot the school assigned them.

At about 7:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, some of streets surrounding Eastwood high school are already lined up with cars.

“It’s a little bit chaotic,” said senior Christen Rios.

Faculty and staff are also feeling the impact of the construction, they are forced to take a longer walk from the designated parking lot to class.

The Ysleta Independent School District has contracts with three nearby churches to accommodate faculty and student parking.

YISD agreed to pay for a new parking lot at Mount Hope Lutheran Church, located at 9640 Montwood Dr., in exchange for the use of 79 spaces of the current lot. the new parking lot has an estimated cost of $100,000.

At St. Luke United Methodist Church, YISD is paying $20,200 for 130 spaces for the entire year.

The district is paying St. Andrew Presbyterian Church $15,744 for 50 student parking spaces.

Eastwood principal David Boatright said the student parking fee is waived this year because of the ongoing construction.

“We’ve had less than twenty students take us up on that because they prefer parking in the streets,” Boatright said.

In order to obtain a student parking decal, students have to show their driver license, proof of insurance and complete and application.

“It’s just a matter of getting it done,” Boatright said. He added that students were notified about the free parking decals at registration before the school year started, phone messages and class meetings.

ABC-7 asked several students why they opted for the streetside parking.

“The student parking is further,” Nunez said.

Another student said he’d likely get a parking decal next year, but it’s not something he interested in doing now.

St. Andrew Presbyterian is about half a mile from the school campus, but along the way there is residential parking that’s closer to the school.

“I see a lot of students parking in the neighborhoods,” Nunez said.

One nearby resident sympathizes with the students and opens up his driveway for students to park.

“They park in our yard all the time, but we give them permission,” said Jesse Davis, who moved into the area about five years ago.

He said back then there were some issues with students leaving behind trash and litter, but said it has been resolved.

Boatright said the school is responsive to any concerns from residents.

“If they have an issue we’re willing to meet right away.”

Eastwood student organizations regularly pick up trash in the neighborhood as part of their community service.

Boatright warned that El Paso Police officers are on regular patrol handing tickets to students who are illegally parked.

“The word is out that you need to park in the right spot or you could get a ticket,” Boatright said.

ABC-7 contacted the El Paso Municipal Court for records on the number of parking citations given around Eastwood High School, but the city said it does not keep track of the number of tickets given on residential streets.

“I came back to my truck after football practice and saw a ticket on my windshield,” said Christen Rios. He said the signs are sometimes confusing for drivers and has also seen other students get tickets.

The citation set him back about $200.

Not all residential streets surrounding Eastwood are up for grabs, ‘no parking’ signs have been placed on several streets, leaving students with less options.

Some neighborhoods have implemented city-mandated decals to park along the street that cost $10 for one year.

“When they’re done with the school (construction), I think it’ll be great. Right now, what are they going do? The students have to go somewhere,” Davis said.

Boatright said when the construction is complete, the school will have a new parking lot and administration will re-evaluate student parking and the cost.

On the opposite side of the city, Coronado High School some students are accustomed to showing up early to snag a prime parking spot.

In the next year, Coronado will also see the bulldozers and cranes complete a major construction project that include a new classroom building, fieldhouse and courtyard.

“Parking is an important element that we recognize needs to be addressed. The totality of the project will have various parking elements” said Carlos Gallinar, EPISD Executive Director for Planning and School Construction.

In the meantime, students show up early for parking spot close to campus.

“I get here as early as I can. This is just the way it is,” said junior Alex Houd.

Eastwood’s construction forced rows of portables, eliminating parking and establishing “Fort Eastwood.”

“We are trying really hard to minimize the number of portables,” said Gallinar of Coronado.

“Maybe a handful more, but certainly not at the level of Eastwood.”

Gallinar said EPISD has no plans to acquire new land for extra parking, instead utilizing the site they already have at Coronado.

The construction at Coronado will be covered by the 2016 bond approved by voters. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for next summer.

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