After a meeting at the school and addressing the East Penn School Board twice, several parents of children who attend Willow Lane Elementary School addressed Lower Macungie Township's Public Safety Commission.
And an ad hoc member of the commission flat out said the Willow and Sauerkraut lanes intersection is unsafe for children to be walking.
Susan Coenen, a parent and resident of Brookside Farms, asked the commissioners at the Tuesday meeting what they planned to do for the children who are supposed to begin walking to school in the fall.
The East Penn School District, claiming Willow Lane was designed as a "walking school," had been busing all students since the school opened in fall 2010. But in an effort to save $65,000 in the 2013 budget, the district has said that students who live within a 1.5-mile radius will no longer be bused as of August 2013.
Commissioner Scott Forbes told Coenen that the township has committed $85,000 of the 2013 budget to signage and blinking "school zone" lights that are supposed to be installed before the end of the summer.
Lower Macungie Township Commissioner Roger Reis -- a liaison to the Public Safety Commission with Commissioner Doug Brown -- said the township is working with the school district to reduce the speed of cars on Willow and Sauerkraut lanes.
He assured Coenen that there would also be public meetings at which parents could offer suggestions.
"We can't think of everything. We like to hear from parents. No final decisions have been made yet. Everything is being reexamined, re-studied and reconsidered," Reis said.
Coenen replied that she finds it "disconcerting" that neither the township nor the school district has "taken ownership" of the issue in an attempt to solve it.
Parent Lee LaRussa, a physician, said studies have shown that people will not walk the mile and a half the school district claims is appropriate.
"They don't walk that far. The Walkability Study considers only the buses and the walkers. But there will be hundreds of cars coming to the school each morning," he said, noting there was no provision in the study that addresses how that kind of traffic volume will be handled.
Peter Pavlovic, who was an ad hoc member of the commission at the beginning of the meeting and had been voted in as a sitting Public Safety Commissioner by the end, said he has spent time sitting and watching the intersection and the habits of the people who drive it.
“I can honestly say it’s unsafe for East Penn to make Willow Lane a walking school,” Pavlovic said.
“Willow Lane is a state highway and people drive it as one….the traffic is horrendous.”
The commission put together a bulleted list of concerns about students walking to Willow Lane Elementary that Reis and Brown will present when the township commissioners meet Thursday.
- Increased traffic
- Identification of walking paths and how the paths will be maintained – especially in snow – and how it will be enforced.
- Modifications to crosswalks
- Enforcement assistance from State Police at Fogelsville
- The staging of pick-up and drop-off periods