New Duluth East High School spurs new parking headaches

Increased traffic on slippery hills in winter and streets lined with cars are just two of the problems residents outside the parking permit zone around the new East High School worry about.

Parking on Gladstone Street
Cars, some driven by East High School students, are parked along Gladstone Street six blocks above East High School on Thursday. Tight space in the parking lots at the school has led some students to park along streets just beyond the permit parking zone. (Bob King /

Increased traffic on slippery hills in winter and streets lined with cars are just two of the problems residents outside the parking permit zone around the new East High School worry about.

Designating a zone where only residents can park on the street and increasing parking next to the school at 40th Avenue East and Superior Street did little to alleviate a glut of students who are parking up the hill on residential streets.

"When they put in the residential parking permit zone, it just transferred the problems further north," said Greg Fischer, a North 40th Avenue East resident. And because of the hilly makeup of the area and its history of accidents in winter, he's certain "it's going to be mayhem," he said.

The city and the Duluth school district have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday at East to talk to residents about parking issues and options.

A residential permit parking zone extends four blocks up 40th Avenue East. Where it ends, students park --both farther up the avenue and along Gladstone Street. It's the area that has seen the most overflow, with 40 to 50 extra cars there each day, said Steven Goman, senior engineering specialist for the city. It's along a bus route, and residents worry about young children walking between cars to board school buses, and driveways being partly blocked.


Possible answers to the problem from the city side, Goman said, include increasing the size of the permit zone to include that neighborhood, or opening up a couple of areas in the permit zone that aren't in front of homes, which would give room for about 25 cars.

Gladstone Street resident Sharon Dawson wants the permit zone increased. She's not sure why her neighborhood wasn't included in the first place, she said, because of its proximity to the school. And while the students she's spoken to in front of her home have been respectful, "when the snow comes we won't be able to drive up and down our street," she said.

Dawson also has noticed students driving other students to their cars so they don't have to walk the five to six blocks to and from school. That increases traffic in the area, she said.

The school has parking lots for both students and staff, and the student lot is for 250 permit-holders. The staff lot across 40th Avenue East was recently completed, giving more room to student parkers in the lot next to the school. Construction workers still take some of the spots.

The Duluth Congregational Church on Superior Street also rents 20 spots to the school, and a few more will be added next week, said Assistant Principal Nathan Glockle. A permit for the lot next to the school is $45 per semester and the church lot permit is $25. The lots are full and the waiting list is long, Glockle said.

"We're monitoring the lots on a daily basis and adding permits as we go," he said, noting that sometimes the lots look emptier because of the different start times of some students. Nearly 30 spots will be added next year when the football field is complete. Students are more than willing to pay for permits because they take "zero-hour" classes before school, or have after-school jobs and activities they need to get to, he said, and walking several blocks eats up valuable time.

"I've had reports of students parking way down on London Road and walking up," he said. "It's definitely a problem."

Many students don't want permits because they don't drive every day or have infrequent use of a parent's car. That's why the district is thinking about installing meters in the parking lots, said Kerry Leider, property and risk manager for the district.


"But there are some students who, regardless of how much it costs, are going to walk a mile to save it," he said.

Duluth City Councilor Todd Fedora asked for the parking meeting. He has received several calls about congestion, speeding vehicles and parking at Washington Square Park before two-hour parking restrictions were begun.

Long before the school was finished, residents said parking was going to be a problem, Fedora said.

"There were denials there was going to be a problem, and reality tells us it is a problem," he said.

But with students going from three high schools to two last year and boundaries expanding, students' need for cars has grown.

"I have a fair amount of sympathy for these young kids," he said. "It's a tough dilemma."

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