Mundelein may let Carmel students park at Metra lot -- a mile and a half away
Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein doesn't have enough parking spots for students who drive to campus.
About 1½ miles to the west, many of the parking spots at Mundelein's enormous Metra station lot go unused each day -- which means unrealized income for the village.
Carmel officials are hoping to strike a bargain with Mundelein leaders that should help relieve both issues. They've asked village hall to reserve up to 75 parking spaces at the Metra station for students unable to park at the school.
Following a brief discussion at Monday night's village board meeting, trustees authorized village employees to work with Carmel staff on a parking agreement.
If a deal can be reached, it will resolve a problem encountered at many suburban high schools. It also will boost revenue for the village.
"(It's) a good thing," Village Administrator John Lobaito said.
During the 2018-19 term, about 1,150 students attended Carmel, which is on Route 176 east of Hawley Street. Most come from the North and Northwest suburbs.
Roughly 950 students either drive or are driven to the school, said Brian Stith, Carmel's executive director of marketing and admissions.
Of the campus' 600 parking spots, 470 are reserved for seniors and for juniors lucky enough to get winning numbers in a parking lottery, Stith said.
Juniors who don't get winning lottery numbers but still drive to school often park in the parking lots of businesses on Hawley Street.
Incoming Carmel junior Aidan Day said many of his friends parked at Fair Haven Lanes on Hawley Street or at a nearby Ace Hardware store. Day got a winning lottery number for the 2019-20 term but isn't a fan of the system.
"All juniors should be able to park on campus," Day said.
The search for more convenient parking led Carmel officials to the train station at 205 N. Archer Ave. The station has about 500 spots and never fills up, Lobaito said.
If the school and village strike a deal, juniors who don't get winning lottery numbers and other students who turn 16 before they are juniors could park at the train station.
Seniors still would have priority for on-campus parking.
Carmel already runs morning shuttles to and from the station for the one or two dozen students who ride Metra to school. An afternoon bus will be added if an agreement is made, Stith said.
Carmel officials have discussed adding shuttles for students who participate in extracurricular activities.
Families whose students park at the station would be assessed an undetermined sum by the school to cover the lot's daily charge, which is $1.75 on weekdays. The additional revenue would go toward maintenance costs at the station, Lobaito said.
Carmel isn't the only suburban high school where student demand for parking spots exceeds supply.
Some Stevenson High School students who can't park on that Lincolnshire campus buy permits from Vernon Township and park at the Prairie View Metra station or the township's Peterson Park.
Some Wauconda High School students park across Main Street at the Wauconda Park District's Cook Park.
Libertyville High School students who can't secure spots on campus often park at the Brainerd athletic compound and nearby parks.