Parking for Lambert High School students at Forsyth County’s Old Atlanta Recreation Center got a lot cheaper this week.
At a meeting on Thursday, Forsyth County Commissioners voted 3-0, with Commissioners Todd Levent and Pete Amos absent, to lower the rate for the parking spots to $125 effective for the 2018-19 school years, meaning those who already paid should see a refund of the original $300 paid.
“The families that attend Lambert High School are taxpaying citizens of this county who fund both the school system and their own parking, as well as our own parks,” said District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson. “It’s a bit of a sticky situation because we already have a number of families that have paid this rate that I don’t feel is an appropriate rate.”
The county first approved allowing parking at 50 spaces in 2012 before an additional 30 were added in 2013. In 2015, the county approved moving the total number of spaces to 100 for students as parking at the school was impacted by construction.
Last week, Forsyth County Commissioners discussed the policy before sending it to the parks board for a recommendation. The day before the commission’s meeting, the county’s park board recommended reducing the fees to $200 starting next school year.
Semanson fired back against reported comments from a parks board member “referring to the types of vehicles the children at Lambert” drive and their ability to pay. She said the comment “appears to be class warfare.”
“This is not a needs-based system,” she said. “We are offering parking to our taxpayers as a service.”
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills disputed the “class warfare” designation, saying the rules were put into place by a previous south Forsyth commissioner and Lambert was the only school with extra parking at a county facility.
Mills also raised potential issues with searches of the vehicles at the rec center lot compared to the school lot and the safety of students crossing Nichols Road to reach the school.
“I just wish that the county could get out of the car-parking business,” she said. “I think that would be the wisest thing.”