Parking deal boosts Mt. Lebanon school renovation plans
Mt. Lebanon commissioners approved a shared-parking agreement with the school district last night that gives the high school renovation project enough parking spaces.
Allowing the school to use 40 spaces in the “commissioners’ lot” in Mt. Lebanon Park should give the $113.3 million renovation enough parking to satisfy zoning laws and get preliminary approval from the municipal planning board later this year.
The commissioners will be asked to give the project final approval as early as February. Opponents of the renovation plan considered the parking agreement a chance for the commissioners to force the school district to reconsider the project.
“We’re not here to have a referendum on the school project,” said Commissioner Dave Brumfield. “What we’re doing here tonight is to consider whether the shared-parking agreement is beneficial for the municipality to enter into.”
The school project has provoked strong opinions. Some residents urged the district to trim the project to $75 million and others insisted the new school would help the district attract and keep families.
The commissioners avoided expressing opinions on the project’s merits, but the parking agreement thrust them into the disagreement.
“I’m not happy this is falling back on us,” said Commissioner Joe DeIuliis when the parking agreement was introduced. “The public’s perception is that we’re jammed up in this, politically.”
Mt. Lebanon’s zoning code requires the high school to have at least 523 parking spaces, but the school district submitted a renovation plan with 505 spaces and asked for an exception to the code.
The “commissioners’ lot” was informally shared for years — some spaces are marked with signs indicating they are for student parking — and the district started negotiations to formalize the deal as early as April. After the zoning board rejected an appeal of the rules last month, the district resubmitted the parking agreement.
Under the agreement, the municipality and the school district would split maintenance costs and the school would keep the lot plowed and salted. The municipality could demand that the school district pay to relocate the 40 spaces or add more for municipal use nearby.