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Where to cross the street?

Spring Valley and school on different sides of the street

SPRING VALLEY — The Safe Routes to School matter is still a lingering topic between the Spring Valley Elementary School Board and city of Spring Valley.

While the city wants to use a Safe Routes to School grant to place a traffic light and construct sidewalks at the intersection of Dakota and Strong streets, the school board opposes this plan and has suggested other intersections — like Dakota and Richards streets or Dakota and Taylor streets — which the board believes would be best for students crossing to and from school.

Another factor in the debate has been the traffic congestion at the intersections and how placing a traffic light would affect the traffic flow, especially with year when the Lincoln Elementary School students attend JFK.

After discussions, letters and committee meetings between the two boards, a debate continues over which intersection would be best to plant this traffic light.

At last week’s meeting, Superintendent Jim Hermes reported the city was going to move on with the project with or without the school board’s approval.

Hermes suggested writing a letter in response to the city, so there is something in writing that states the school board’s position on the matter.

Board member Tracy Morris asked if the school has considered asking for the opinion from parents of the students who walk to school.

“We’re coming at it from one direction, and the city is coming at it from another. I don’t think it’s impossible for us to meet, but that is another stakeholder that we need to somehow get that information before we write our response,” she said.

Board member John Kusek agreed with the idea, but expressed concerned about the public and parents knowing the exact plans. He said people had approached him in the last couple weeks about the issue and brought up incorrect information. He did mention that everyone he has spoken with about the issue has opposed placing the light at the Strong intersection.

Kusek again brought up the need for a traffic study to find out which would be the safest crossing for the students and cause the least amount of traffic congestion.

“(The city) is trying to push it together with a traffic plan for development and some state funding, and those two things don’t quite mesh,” he said.

Morris said she feels the city has a different interest than the school, and if an independent third party completed a traffic study and said the intersection at Strong would be the best for students, then she could stand behind the decision 100 percent.

“But I just don’t feel like I’m getting that, and I can’t support something that doesn’t have that independent opinion,” she said.

The board briefly discussed paying to have their own traffic study completed, but eventually came to the notion that if they completed a study, the city could complete a study, it might not conclude the issue.

Hermes has asked school board members to submit any opinions or comments they feel need to be printed in the letter, which he will send to the city.

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