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Which route is the safest?

Spring Valley Elementary’s plan is still on drawing board

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 2:48 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014 2:50 p.m. CDT

SPRING VALLEY — The Safe Routes to School topic is still on the minds of many residents in Spring Valley — particularly the Spring Valley Elementary School Board.

While the city of Spring Valley would like to use their Safe Routes to School Grant to construct sidewalks, place a traffic light and hire a crossing guard at the intersection of Dakota and Strong streets, the school board has concerns the intersection might be too traffic heavy with the future supermarket and other businesses near the location, to allow students to cross at that point.

It’s their belief moving the crossing location to Dakota and Richards streets or Dakota and Taylor streets would be a safer plan for students. Currently, the school tries to route students to cross at Richards Street.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Jim Hermes announced the city council had invited members of the school board to meet with them at their Streets and Alleys Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 24. The council would like to sit down and hear the school board’s plan for the drop-off and pick-up at the school.

While Hermes said they don’t have a definite plan, school board member Jack Kusek was quick to say they have a concept, but questioned whether they were was ready to discuss it in front of the committee meeting.

“We have a concept, but I foresee problems with going in with half the information and trying to make it sound right,” he said. “We have a plan; it’s just a matter of tweaking,”

Kusek expressed frustration with the press’ coverage on the city’s comments questioning if the school board had a plan or not.

“I took a little bit of offense we had that kind of publicity when the information has been out there,” he said. “We’re trying to cooperate, and we’re getting resistance from the other side.”

He also expressed concerns about social media “exacerbating” the issues.

Hermes confirmed the district’s final plan that will be published and shared with the community members has not yet been created.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about it, but it’s not definite” he said.

Kusek said the current concept is something that could be finalized within a couple meetings.

“The bottom line is we need information from a traffic study,” he said.

At the last school board meeting, it was discovered the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is giving out the grant, had only taken a pedestrian count in the area and had not yet completed a traffic study. Kusek said a traffic study would help show whether putting a traffic signal at Strong and Dakota would help or hurt congestion in the area.

Regarding the meeting, board President Ray Nolasco said the timing on the meeting may not be right because there is no finished product to share, but if the city has concerns it would be a good time to hear them and bring them back to the board to consider.

Board member Tracy Morris agreed.

“I think it’s important we have a presence at the meeting and just not give out the draft of our plan because there might be changes later on,” she said.

Hermes plans to meet with the committee on Monday with other board members who are interested in attending.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com. 

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