Citizens turned out in strong numbers at Waukee’s city council meeting last Tuesday, to voice their concerns over the growing traffic issues surrounding area schools.
Of main concern is the build-up that occurs next to Waukee’s South Middle School, on LA Grant Parkway. The ‘stacking’ of cars, a result of parents waiting to pick up their children, and inefficient traffic flow, has become more than just an inconvenience for local commuters; it has become a danger to students coming and going from school.
The focus of the debate was over the lack of sidewalks extending from the school, to the new suburban developments to the West. Without these sidewalks, students walking home from school have a limited selection of safe routes to choose from. Parents, who showed up at the council meeting, were mainly worried about their children’s safety. They spoke to the council about the lack of pedestrian crosswalks, and signage to warn motorists about the young pedestrians. The feeling, among the parents, was that the school and city have dropped the ball on this student safety issue. Members of the city ad
administration were quick to point out that the responsibility of constructing sidewalks usually falls on the land developer’s shoulders; though these are unique circumstances. The city briefly discussed options to take sidewalk construction into their own hands, but the topic was quickly tabled. The conversation then turned towards the school district, and the build-up of cars stopped along LA Grant Parkway.
"The school needs to keep traffic off of the road", Councilman Mike Watts stated. "God forbid we need to get a fire truck through there". He held the school responsible for the excessive traffic, citing their deviation from the original two-lane student pick-up plan as the cause of the overflow.
Donna Dressel, mother of a student recently involved in a traffic accident just outside of South Middle School, stood at the podium, speaking to the council about her conversations with school administrators, stating, "The school administrators point fingers at the city, and the city is pointing fingers at the school" and that "There is a lack of communication between this fine administration, and the fine administration running the schools". Members of the public also commented that this traffic phenomenon is not isolated to just Waukee’s South Middle School, but that the congestion occurs around several area schools, near the times when parents are dropping off, and picking up their children. Councilmember Isiah McGee commented that future action needs to be taken as becuase "these school properties are located on our thoroughfares. As the area develops, these places will become collecting grounds for student activity".
Lieutenant Troy Mapes, patrol supervisor with the Waukee Police Department, stated parents should be patient when it comes to traffic build-up.
"Student resource officers are out there monitoring daily, and interfering when necessary," he said. "We’re doing all that we can to keep kids, and drivers, safe with the resources we have. Parents should be patient and plan ahead, allowing themselves extra time to get in, and out of the area."
The police department will have officers in place to help keep traffic flowing at both of Waukee’s middle schools. Commuters are urged remain vigilant while driving through school zones, and to consider routes that don’t pass by busy areas during times when parents are picking up and dropping off students.
• The council unanimously passed a resolution approving that they will begin taking public bids for the construction of the new ‘Alice’s Road Corridor’ area. Ground could be broken on the new construction as soon as Nov. 1; and,
• A resolution was also passed unanimously, approving a contract with Brimeyer Fursman, LLC. to manage the process of filling the position of Waukee’s retiring police chief.