Subscribe for 17¢ / day
Carlisle Area School District

Pictured is the entrance to Carlisle High School.

A plan is in the works to more than double the capacity of one of the main parking lots serving the Swartz building of Carlisle High School.

School board members were briefed Thursday on a conceptual design that would expand the lot off West Penn Street from the current 86 parking spaces to a target of 210 spaces. The estimated cost in the Capital Projects Budget is $400,000.

The proposed timeline is to finalize the design and specifications by April to release the project for bid, said Shawn Farr, district director of finance.

Bid results could come back in May to the board property committee. It could then recommend action to the full board, which has the final say on whether to accept the bids.

Pending approval, the parking lot expansion project could take place over the summer with completion anticipated by the start of the 2018-19 school year, Farr said.

There are two main parking lots that serve the Swartz building. One lot is north of the structure and has 74 parking spaces accessible off Bellaire Drive, a road that runs down the middle of the high school campus. This lot provides access to the main academic part of the building and is used during the day as parking for teachers, staff and visitors.

The second lot consists of 86 parking spaces and is located on the south side of the building adjoining the district administrative wing. This lot provides convenient access to the Swartz cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasium. That convenience is driving the need for a lot expansion.

Large events at Swartz require parking that far exceeds the maximum capacity of the current south lot, Farr said. He said this creates an overflow of parking that spills onto the adjoining street and into the neighborhood creating a safety issue.

“People start getting creative with their parking,” Farr said. This includes parking on grass or blocking in other motorists. Even with the expansion, there is going to be parking capacity issues, but the scope of overflow would be minimal, he said.

Plans call for the development of two additional rows of parking spaces immediately in front of existing parking that runs along the frontage of the administrative wing and including the main access door to a main hallway that leads to the cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasium.

There is also a proposal to develop what is now a vacant lot off to the side of the exit driveway. The hope is to also add parking to the side of the lot adjoining the newly constructed weight room.

The proposed five-year budget for capital projects allocates about $400,000 toward the project. There are no plans to modify the parking lot off Bellaire Drive.

Instead district administrators plan to meet with designers to develop a safer one-way traffic flow pattern through the administrative wing parking lot, Farr said. He said the lot is busy in the morning because parents drop off their students at the entrance to the cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasium. Many students use this entrance to access the cafeteria for the breakfast program.

“Right now, there is no signage for one-way,” Farr said. “We would need to make decisions on how we could lay it out.”

Property committee chairman Brian Guillaume said this project will also involve the installation of sidewalks, curbing and drainage upgrades. He asked staff if there were any large rock deposits within the project area that could drive up the costs of excavation. Tom Horton, director of facilities, said the excavation work should not go that deep.

Email Joseph Cress at


News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.