Working with the Community to Protect Our School Students

By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager & Fred Maas, Former Police Chief

(Thursday, February 23, 2017)Although the Police Department and City Administration have continuously come up with the best viable solutions to deal with the school traffic and those affected by it, both in the mornings and afternoons, we once again will be challenged even more so when the closure of the Public supermarket and its parking lot happens in mid-April.  That closure will affect everyone from our school staff, students and parents, surrounding resident complexes and businesses. Everyone will have a stake in the results of the closure for rebuilding a new store.

The closure of the parking lot will mean making a change for those parents who have dropped their students off for years across the street. They will have to make choices on whether their children can safely walk to school from home, or enter the car pool program and its pick up and drop off protocols that exist now. You may be tempted to seek park and walk space in the RK plaza shopping center which is private property and is already full of vehicles. Since it is private property, the property owner has a right to tow vehicles that are not legitimately doing business in their plaza.

So as you can see, there is no magic solution. Parking spaces already are at a premium and are completely full around the school. Buses are full of students that are picked up from courtesy points within the City. There may be lane closures due to the construction. Your Police Department has been meeting regularly with condominium associations who have expressed concerns over this challenge.

Our plan is to monitor the results of the closure and its impact on our area for the 6 weeks before school is out for the summer. During that time, we will gather information from the closure to make adaptations to the traffic pattern that will alleviate both existing problems and future problems brought on by the closing of Publix. It is our goal to make any adjustments to the traffic plan for the opening of the new school year in August that will facilitate the smooth flow of traffic, although congested, and reduce inconveniences and problems for the surrounding residential buildings and businesses.

We are primarily focused on the safety of each and every student in that school regardless of the method of transportation they utilize. But we can encourage parents to help us by reducing that congestion and finding the most workable solution in getting their children to school during this time frame. Hopefully, working together through ride sharing, being considerate of others, and following the rules and procedures, we will have the best solution possible for all parties involved.