April Haskell understands there likely is no immediate solution to the parking dilemma of she and her neighbors at Sweetgrass Square, but that doesnt mean shes going to give up.
I dont quit, she said Friday afternoon.
What the Sweetgrass homeowners along Baldwin Lane want is for students at Horry-Georgetown Technical Colleges Grand Strand campus to park somewhere else. So many student vehicles swarm the area nearly every morning from late August to late May that residents cant make morning appointments for fear theyll return home and have nowhere to park, Haskell said.
She said residents have talked with school and city officials, but so far none want to do what the residents want done.
Parking space is not a problem just on HGTCs Grand Strand campus. The Conway campus has blocked off a couple hundred parking spaces this year because of construction, and Coastal Carolina University has been reconfiguring its parking space, also because of construction.
In each of the latter two cases, the changes mean that students either have to troll the remaining lots near buildings for parking or park their vehicles in new lots that are longer walks from classes than where they used to park. In neither case has it been reported that parking spilled into adjoining neighborhoods the way it has on Baldwin Lane.
Phil Render, who is an associate vice president at HGTC and dean of the Health Services program housed just across Pampas Drive from Sweetgrass, said he empathizes with residents, but he considers the situation a city problem rather than a college problem.
Render is also the areas Myrtle Beach City Council representative, and in that capacity, he said council members havent been inclined to limit parking on public streets.
He said the city required the developer of Sweetgrass Square to create parking along Baldwin in exchange for its permit to build high-density housing.
The Sweetgrass homes are within a few feet of their neighbors on both sides and the porch steps come down to the sidewalk that abuts the on-street parking spaces. Each home has a garage in the rear and what Haskell calls a tiny bib of concrete with access to an alley that is behind the rows of homes. But residents say the alley can be blocked with service vehicles and at least some garages are filled with storage items, converted dens or golf carts and without enough room for their vehicles.
Kim Hunter, another Sweetgrass homeowner, said she and neighbors have tried personal appeals to the students and putting out flyers, but the response was equally as hollow as that theyve heard elsewhere.
Render said the college has asked students to use parking lots on campus, but he said the college cant force them. Most on-campus parking is farther from the Spier Allied Health Services building than the spaces along Baldwin Lane.
Students, like most people, will be inclined to choose the closer spaces, he said.
I know its a city thing, Haskell said of the source of a solution. I know were not going to get anything from the college.
She said college officials told residents last year that their parking woes would get better once the expansion of the Spier building was complete. Instead, she said, the problem has doubled from last school year to this.
Neil McCoy, HGTCs construction project manger, said the school will add 400 parking spaces on the Grand Strand campus next spring, but they will be even further away from the Spier building than many current, on-campus parking spaces, as well as those on Baldwin Lane.
Render said he believes there is a solution to the problem and that with continued work, it will be found.
Haskell said she loves the area and her home in Sweetgrass Square, but the hassle over parking is stressful.
Those are my constituents. Those are my students, Render described his impetus not to let the problem fade away without a good conclusion.
But what that might be, hes not sure.
Haskell and other residents will appeal to the City Council at a meeting later this month. But if it turns out like one six months ago, little is likely to happen.
What would come next, she doesnt know.
Like Render, she vowed to work on.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.