On Tuesday morning, Albany’s Aquatic Recreation Programs Manager Rob Romancier parked on the street rather than in the Albany Community Pool lot, thanks to construction at South Albany High School.
And he's not the only one.
“It’s affected us big time,” Romancier said. The pool is located on the SAHS campus.
The construction, which started the day after Christmas and is expected to last through December of this year, was funded by a $159 million bond passed by voters in May 2017.
South Albany High received $12 million from the bond and is currently renovating existing structures, adding Career Technical Education classrooms and an auxiliary gym. Decorative fencing and upgrades to the school’s theater are also underway.
“It’s a lot of pieces,” South Albany Principal Nate Munoz said. “Due to the construction, unfortunately, and the way our campus is set up, student parking was cut, but we made those spaces up with turf stadium parking,” he said.
According to Munoz, the high school lost 50 parking spaces when construction began.
“After 7:40 a.m., the lot is packed,” Romancier said, noting that the time corresponds with students arriving for classes at the high school. “I’ve seen seniors circle and circle [our lot] and then give up and go home.”
Carol Rice said she regularly visits the pool, and while she has a handicapped-parking pass, she’s noticed the crowded lot at the facility.
“If I didn’t have this I’d have to stay home,” she said of the permit as she loaded her walker into the backseat of her car Tuesday afternoon.
In an attempt to combat the issue, pool staff has taken to placing violation stickers on students’ cars. Because no pool activities are scheduled between 9 and 9:30 a.m., cars left in the lot are assumed to be student vehicles and receive a sticker. However, the sticker carries no fine or penalty.
And while parking during sporting events has always been difficult, Romancier said it grew worse after construction for anyone arriving for swim classes Tuesday and Thursday nights. Next month, the pool is set to host a district swim meet and Romancier has already made arrangements for buses to park in the church across the street.
“You’re going to have all the kids and then parents who want to watch their kids compete. It’s going to be a mess,” he said.
Construction at the high school was initially scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2020. That timeline has since shifted six months ahead of schedule.
The school district's bond projects also include a new elementary school, a complete rebuild of an existing elementary school and upgrades to West Albany High School. All of the bond projects are scheduled to be completed by 2021.
Romancier said he has reached out to the school about the construction’s effect on the pool’s parking lot.
“Basically they’ve told us it’s going to last a year,” Romancier said. “There’s not much to do, there’s limited parking.”
Romancier has also talked with seniors and other pool patrons about the construction in an attempt to help the community better understand the situation.
On Tuesday, pool staff received four complaints, and one patron informed staff she wouldn't be renewing her yearly pool pass due to the parking shortage.