by Richard Uhlhorn
Chelan Schools Superintendent Barry DePaoli visited with Chelan City Council on Tuesday evening, February 9, to present potential solutions to the district’s summer parking issues at the high school with boaters and vacationers.
Over the years, the School District has allowed boaters to park their trailers in the high school’s side parking lot over the summer months and until several years ago, hadn’t had any problems.
Two years ago, the Lake Chelan Valley began seeing an increase in boat traffic and with limited parking available, the school lots began to fill up. Last summer was the deal breaker! Over 90 trailers, and some RV’s took advantage of the free parking. When it came time for the trailers to move out and the District to get ready for school opening, many didn’t leave creating an issue of hunting the owners down and having them move their trailers.
“We are looking for solutions to the problem,” DePaoli told the Council. “The problem over the last two years is that a lot more boats are coming into the City and Valley and the parking ot is becoming a catch-all with trailers and RV’s.”
DePaoli stated that the board wants to figure out how to continue allowing parking at the school. “We want to be good stewards of the community,” said DePaoli. “We know it is a convenience.”
The problems with boat trailers and the increase in boats coming to the Valley is that Chelan’s PUD boat launch only has 16 slots for trailers, which means that a lot of the boating traffic to the free PUD launch park their trailers up and down Farnham Street.
“We have no way of managing the lot,” stated DePaoli. “We don’t want to be an overnight parking lot.”
Erin McCardle said, “When I go by it seems that trailers are left for the season.” She asked Barry if he had any potential solutions?
DePaoli replied that people are looking for week to month parking. “We can control day parking,” he said. “If we shut down the lot, we are not being good stewards of the City. We really need to offer something to our locals.” He asked if the City could provide a Parking Lot Officer which he said the District could help (financially) with that.
Mayor Goedde asked if out-of-town boaters could park up behind Les Schwab at the old Evans Storage area now being run by Ray Wilson. “He’s planning a large increase in his footprint.” This could open up some long term parking opportunities, but the question would be how to get the boaters back to their boats.
Hollingsworth added that the PUD needs to be involved in the discussion since they own the launch. He suggested that the City could install a parking kiosk and treat the school lot as an additional parking facility by leasing it out and splitting the proceeds with the District. DePaoli replied they need to have some solution in place by May 1 when the boating season begins to get underway. “I’m open to to any partnership the City would like to look at,” said DePaoli emphasizing that the lot needs to be day parking only.
Mayor Goedde asked Parks Director Paul Horne about the Kiosk solution. Horne replied that they cost an estimated $25,000 and the Parks Department would have to hire another seasonal to help. “We have a hard time hiring one now.”
The liability issue came up and DePaoli stated that in 20 years they have not had an issue.
DePaoli is in hopes that the City will take the idea of a partnership seriously concerning this issue. His solution is to keep the side lot open for 35 trailers (no RVs) and the back lot for the use of locals providing up to 25 more slots. The front parking lot at the School would remain open for School District events.
The issue is a serious one throughout the community with its unprecedented growth. Councilman Chris Baker said during the Mayor/Council comments that Chelan has outgrown its parks and parking.