To the Editor:
The following letter was sent to the City Council and School Board.
Good day. Today I am coming to you with a Petition for the Safety of the Children. In attending all of the meetings for the new school building for Jefferson Houston Elementary School, I have found that so much of the focus has been on the site and next the architecture of the building. I realize that the site plan that was chosen is the site plan that will be used.
I find it puzzling though that as this is about what is best for the children of our City, nobody really thought about their safety when the design for the parking area and drop off was designed. I would like to remind you that three years ago when this project was begun as a public-private partnership, Parks and Recreation already had a plan and presentation of how they were going to renovate our little Buchanan Street playground. With the petition I am sending, I am also sending the current site plan and a copy of the plan for the playground so you can see how easy it would be to leave the playground and basketball court right where they are, and you can visually see how safe the area is now and how it will affect the children if these amenities are moved.
Currently, we have 40 parking spaces in the parking lot next to the pool, 20 alongside the Durant Center, with 62 plus 4 handicapped spaces behind the current building totaling 126. The proposed site plan is to “give” us 100 spaces, if the drawing is accurate, it shows 102, meaning a loss of 24 spaces. I am proposing the playground and basketball court stay in their current location. This way children or adults that are at the pool or using the playground and/or basketball court do not have to cross moving traffic. One can say the cars move in the parking lot, yes they do, but they come in, they park, they unpark and they leave. By opening the parking lot and winding it around the pool, all people using these amenities, including the camp buses in the summer will all have to beware of moving traffic as it will constantly be circling the pool.
Once the current school is demolished and removed, there will be room to wrap the driveway around the Durant Center, plus add more parking in the location behind the Durant Center where the school sits, and add parking along the edge of the new play field allowing people that use the field to have off street parking right by the field to unload children or equipment. Handicapped parking could also be placed closer to the front of the Durant Center for the elderly or handicapped that attend various activities at the Durant Center.
In closing, I ask that you look and think hard about what I am saying. There are a lot of children that use this part of the block and to open it would put them all at risk. Have the builder give us the new park where it is, have them repave and paint the current parking areas keeping the parking lot just that, a parking lot not a thoroughfare. Repave and paint the basketball court, give us new hoops. Add parking behind the Durant Center, do not put the playground and court there. There is a cost savings in what I am saying. There is also life savings.