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Parent says parking garage at Billings high schools would make neighborhood safer

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Posted at 8:35 AM, Feb 13, 2024

BILLINGS - People living close to Billings West High School say the streets get crowded with a lot of parking and a lot of speeding through the neighborhood.

They say if there were a parking garage in the West parking lot, that would alleviate some of the traffic and make the neighborhood a little bit safer.

Speeding cars are common in neighborhoods near West High School.

"That's especially dangerous if the cars are recklessly driving," said Arieannah Allphin, a freshman at West.

Allphin spoke at a school board high school bond steering committee meeting last week about how dangerous her walk to school can be.

"I told them mostly about how scary it is to be walking down the street and have people just speeding by and revving up their engines so loud," Areannah said.

Arieannah's mom, Shanti, is one of the many now asking the district to take action.

"Parked nose to nose, nose to bumper and you can't really see cars coming and cars can't see you coming if you're stepping between them," Shanit Allphin said.

Shanti is intrigued by what is listed as a $3 million proposal for a two-story parking garage at West and a $20 million three-level garage at Senior.

"We're looking at some options to allow more parking,” said Scott Reiter, Billings School District 2 executive director of facilities. “Get off the street and maybe help our neighbors out by not blocking all the parking spots anywhere near the school."

Reiter says while no official proposal has been finalized, the garage at Senior would include 744 spaces, an increase from 264.

The proposal isn't entirely new.

Two years ago, the parking garage was included as part of a bigger project to improve Daylis Stadium.

"It's not only just the students that don't have the parking,” Reiter said. “It's also the visitors to the events that have the same issues."

Parking is just one part of the current plan being discussed by the steering committee, which is considering nearly $284 million of repairs and upgrades to the three high schools, the Career Center, and Daylis.

"We're trying to determine the needs of the district right now and looking for what we hopefully can find as a 50 or 75-year plan for those to be fixed," Reiter said.

Shanti Allphin supports those changes to keep her daughter to stay safe.

"When you come together to fix one issue, it really makes a difference, and a lot of other bigger issues kind of get solved along the way," Shanti said.