City considers repurposing Cardinals shuttle lot south of school
By Mark Carlisle
Raymond S. Kellis High School could soon be getting new neighbors.
Glendale’s Planning Commission on Thursday night approved changes to the city general plan and a zoning text amendment for an infill housing development to the east of the school. The change requires final approval from City Council.
The conversation sparked a discussion of the parking issues in the area around the proposed 15.4-acre, 43-lot housing development caused by Kellis High School to the west and Sycamore Grove Park to the east.
The park does not include parking, causing visitors to parallel park along the narrow Emil Rovey Parkway or in surrounding neighborhoods. The high school charges students to park in its lot, driving many students to park along bordering streets or in nearby neighborhoods to avoid the cost.
Ultimately, the commission heeded the analysis of the city’s traffic engineer, who said the proposed development would provide adequate parking for its residents and not exacerbate the surrounding area’s parking problem. The commission unanimously approved the general plan and zoning amendments.
“I think we did the right thing,” said vice chair Gary Hirsch after the vote, who was leading the meeting in chair Arthur Dobbleaere’s absence. “It’s not appropriate to penalize the applicant for a circumstance that has arisen long before they became involved in this property, this area.”
Mr. Hirsch added that if he lived in the area, he would vote for school board members that would stop charging students to park on campus, which he said would solve that parking issue. Kellis is part of Peoria Unified School District.
During the discussion, commissioners and Planning Department staff members called the lack of parking at Sycamore Grove Park an oversite on the part of the city and suggested parking be added in open space on the park’s western edge.
“I think it’s a minimal expense to add that in there if it can be done safely,” said planning administrator David Williams.
City-owned lot to the south
However, in the discussion of the two parking issues, the 18-acre, city-owned parking lot south of the high school was not mentioned until the end of the meeting in a comment from a resident.
The lot is used for parking for Cardinals home games. A shuttle takes fans to University of Phoenix Stadium about a mile and a half to the southwest. It sits vacant on most other days of the year.
“As far as the student parking, I believe the city of Glendale could completely solve that on their own, because what you didn’t talk about is down here in this region is the Arizona Cardinals parking lot that the city of Glendale owns that is maintained locked and no access to,” said Robin Meredith, the president of a nearby homeowners’ association. “So, the city of Glendale could solve that immediately for the student parking.”
Mr. Meredith also echoed what staff had said earlier in the meeting, saying he thinks the park has enough space on its western edge to add parking.
Mr. Hirsch thanked Mr. Meredith for his comments and appeared to agree.
“And staff I’m sure you’ve taken that in and maybe pass that on to the appropriate places, because it sounds like this is something that needs to get solved and the city has a role to play,” Mr. Hirsch said.
No mention was made of the changes to be considered to that city-owned lot on the agenda of the workshop that preceded the planning meeting. One of the two topics of the 5 p.m. planning commission workshop, before the 6 p.m. meeting, was a request for the commission to initiate a general plan and rezoning application to redesignate the property for “Entertainment Mixed Use” and establish a planned area development for the 18-acre site.
The workshop in which this discussion took place was not recorded nor broadcast on city’s public access Channel 11.
If the changes were made, it could bring in stores and businesses to neighbor Kellis High School to the south but eliminate a ready-made solution to the parking problem at the school that is spilling out into the community.