PILOT MOUNTAIN — To increase safety at sporting events, East Surry High School is implementing a “safe parking campaign” on the back side of the campus.
East Surry is unique among local high schools in that two of its sports fields are located across a major street from the school. Old U.S. 52 (with its 45-mph speed limit) splits the main campus from the baseball and softball fields.
The baseball field doesn’t have its own parking, while softball fans often park in the lots at the Armfield Civic Center next door. That has led to baseball fans often pulling off onto the shoulder of the highway and entering the gate behind the bleachers.
At Monday’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Education, Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent, explained that vehicles parked along the shoulders limit visibility in a high-traffic area, making the likelihood of an accident worse in a spot that already has had its share of incidents.
Over the past five years, there have been 30 traffic accidents within this school zone, Reeves told the school board. And that’s just the ones that have been reported, he added, as there could have been minor fender-benders that weren’t called in to the police.
Even though the school has a tunnel that runs under the roadway, some people will still park on the west (school) side and cross over to the baseball field, he said. The school wants to ensure the safety of its students and adult visitors.
Reeves said he and the central office staff have worked with East principal Lorrie Sawyers and athletic director Randy Marion to develop a plan to direct traffic to existing lots. A flyer was sent home with report cards on Friday showing where parking lots are and what path people could take to reach the fields.
Reeves said the preferred way to reach the baseball field will be to enter the Armfield lots and walk past the new Harry Downs Field House that is scheduled to debut this spring. The 2,500-square-foot facility will have changing rooms for athletes, but also concessions for both sports.
People can also park at the school and utilize the tunnel to cross over.
There is a small parking lot next to the tennis courts. Reeves said this area will be used for handicap spaces and also as a drop-off/pickup spot for parents. There have been times when visiting teams have parked in that lot, so Reeves said word will have to go out to other schools about the change as well.
Reeves said he would be going before the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners soon to explain what East Surry is doing and why. The school plans to put up no parking signs and use cones, barricades and ribbons to direct cars.
While the meeting Monday mentioned the baseball and softball areas by name, this campaign would also seem to have a great effect on fall football games. Football draws a greater crowd, and the school lot often fills to capacity. Parking along the road has been much more evident then than during spring sports.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.