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Cul-de-sac dwellers say students often park illegally in area and make navigation difficult

COURTESY PHOTO - Residents of a cul-de-sac near Wilsonville High complain of students overcrowding streets with cars and parking illegally.

For Wilsonville residents living in the cul-de-sac at S.W. Meadows Court near Wilsonville High School, the time of year when school is out of session is a nice respite. But once September rolls around, they say cars again will crowd their streets and worries about congestion and safety will return.

After attending a Wilsonville City Council meeting Monday, July 15, to voice their concerns, residents said they hope issues about students taking up all available parking spots, illegally parking and making the neighborhood difficult to navigate will be addressed.

"I just have a problem with our cul-de-sac and our neighborhood being turned into overflow parking because the high school doesn't have enough (parking spots) or the kids won't take the bus," Meadows resident Jeff Skreen told the Spokesman.

Skreen said congestion in the Meadows Court cul-de-sac and near the Hathaway and Berkshire apartments has been an ongoing issue since he moved there 18 years ago, but that the problem of students crowding the streets didn't surface until a couple years ago.

Now, he said, every available space on the street is taken and fire hydrants often are blocked during the school day. Skreen said he would understand if congestion only occurred during major events like graduation and homecoming, but that every school day is excessive.

He said the proliferation of cars could hinder emergency response. Additionally, Jeff's wife, Jorie Skreen, mentioned that friends who visit her home can't find places to park, children have nowhere to play, and garbage collectors struggle to navigate through the area.

"It's hard to get out of the cul-de-sac because you can't see around the cars," Jeff said. "I pulled out about a month ago … a car was speeding a bit, and it turned out to be a Wilsonville police car. … He was driving too fast, which is common around there. Because of all the cars parked there, you have to crawl slowly through that area to do it safely."

In 2017, the City created a residential permit parking zone ordinance where residents can apply to the City to have a restricted parking zone where only residents are issued permits. Jeff said a group of residents will apply for that zoning ordinance, which requires the city manager's approval and a public hearing. The group also asked the council to consider allowing parking only on one side of the street rather than both sides.

At the meeting, Wilsonville Councilor Ben West recalled canvassing the neighborhood during his election campaign and noticed congestion and cars rushing through at high speeds.

"I didn't have a grasp of what it was like until I was spending a lot of days there," he said. "I hope we can figure something out. I want to hear about how these efforts are going and if you're satisfied."

Wilsonville City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said at the meeting that the City would try to determine ways to address the issue, but advised against drastic measures that would make public streets inaccessible.

"I don't think we want to be turning over public streets to private use," Cosgrove said. "There's a lot of things we can bring to bear here, but we'll start out with the least obtrusive (option)."

Cosgrove suggested that neighbors ask the West Linn-Wilsonville School District to see what they could do to help, while Wilsonville Councilor Charlotte Lehan suggested the group talk with next year's Wilsonville High student council to see if they can negotiate a solution.

"These are drivers, and you can't just have all of us talking with the school administrators and ignore that they have a governing body of students and they are very close to being adults and they should hear this kind of concern in the neighborhood, what the issues are and be asked to come up with solutions as well," she said during the meeting.

Jeff Skreen, however, thought that starting a dialogue with the students and the school district likely would be fruitless and felt that the City should address the issue instead.

So far, the City has begun conducting a speed study of the area, is monitoring how many cars are parked on streets, and has beefed up police enforcement.

"Once we gather that data, as well as other data, we will look at options in terms of addressing the issues residents have brought up," Assistant City Manager Jeanna Troha told the Spokesman.

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