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School loses bid to control street access

MONTICELLO – Cowart Street will remain open to traffic duringschool hours after the mayor broke a tie vote at Tuesday night’smeeting of the Board of Aldermen.

Lawrence County High School Principal Daryl Scoggin asked theboard in November to either close the street during school hours,post no-parking signs on the west side of the street or allow theschool to control parking on that side of the street by issuingpermits.

The school owns the east side of the street and allows parkingin a small lot near the band hall for seniors and band members.

The west side of the street is owned by the city. Other studentsare required to park in the football field parking lot on theopposite side of the school.

Cowart Street already is closed to through traffic during schoolhours but is open from Tommy Jolly Drive to the end of the campusto allow for student parking and access to a fire hydrant.

At the November meeting, Scoggin said he was attempting tocontrol where students, and others, could park to better controlcampus security. Scoggin was not present Tuesday night.

Monticello Police Officer David Stanley, who attended themeeting as a parent and not in an official capacity, said there wasno need to restrict parking on Cowart Street.

“Kids have parked on the street there for years, and there’snever been a problem before,” he said, adding his son parks in thecontested area.

The board split 2-2 on Ward Five Alderman Pete Mathews’ motionto allow parking on Cowart Street with the school issuing parkingpermits. He was supported by Ward Three Alderman George Magee.

Ward One Alderman Jerry Goode said he opposed closing the streetor allowing the school to issue parking permits because he believedthe policy would be unenforceable.

“We’re going to create a problem trying to solve a problem,” hesaid.

With Goode and Ward Two Alderman Steve Moreman opposing themotion and Ward Four Alderman Dick Reeves not present, Mayor DavidNichols cast the deciding vote against the motion.

“They wanted to be able to control who could or couldn’t parkthere. I don’t think we could do that,” Nichols said. “I would havea problem with them collecting a fee on public property.”

A citizen had expressed a similar concern earlier in themeeting.

“He’s going to charge students to park on a public right-of-way,public land? That doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

Instead, Nichols proposed the street be posted as no parkingduring school hours with the school covering the cost of producingand placing the signs. His suggestion was never taken up by theboard.

The topic died when no alderman made the motion, leaving CowartStreet unchanged.