The Press Enterprise recently ran with the headline: Stem Academy Traffic Irks Neighbors. While quite true, University Neighborhood residents are well aware of the long history of impacts to the community from education.
While most of us relish the benefits from high quality educational resources, we are all too familiar with unintended consequences and negative impacts. Fortunately, having lots of practice working collaboratively, a small group of neighbors has been meeting with stakeholders to come up with a plan that brings some resolution and relief. Here’s a brief summary:
At Dr. Kirk Lewis’ request, a small group of local Mt. Vernon/Watkins residents met with the RUSD staff and Riverside Traffic engineers on Monday night, August 10th. Our City Ward Representative Andy Melendrez was also at the meeting. The STEM Academy PTSA president was present.
A recap of Monday’s agenda:
- Activities to date: Parking lot done, lights going in, portables 1 is in place and waiting for a second one to arrive 3 weeks after school starts.
- Future of RSA, they are still talking about moving the 9-12 kids to another location. UCR is still being discussed. Interestingly though, when we asked again about the 5-8 grades increasing in size to fill in the loss of the HS students and accomplish a 700 student cap that Mr. Hansen had told us to expect, the Board member present knew nothing about a 700 student cap! This may be good news for us as we continue to pressure them to keep the student population down closer to the 350 the school was originally intended to house.
- Presentation of a DRAFT traffic mitigation plan: Traffic engineers presented three plans. (feel free to come see them or wait for the next meeting for a finalized map) The City’s proposal was to have traffic from the West come to the school up Mt. Vernon from Big Springs Rd, Barret Rd., and Broadbend Dr. The proposal also includes posting no Parking Signs and Directional signs. There would be No Left Turn sign upon exit of the school from 7:30 am to 8:00 am and 2:30 to 3:00 pmMonday thru Friday, directing the traffic during school opening and dismissal back down Mt. Vernon to these same 3 access points. There would be no left turns on to Mt. Vernon East bound on Watkins for traffic from 7:30 am to 8:30 am and 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm Monday thru Friday.
City Representative Melendrez suggested we watch the suggestions in action for a month, and then reconvene to discuss the results.
- Bussing: Two options were proposed. Cluster bussing from several riverside areas and shuttle bussing from either Goodwin’s or the Newman Center parking lots.
The earliest date of busing would be January, 2016.
- Potential staggered beginning and dismissal times
They took our input and suggestions back and will finalize a traffic plan soon. I believe Mr. Lewis wants to meet on a larger scale at the next neighborhood community meeting. That date is September 10th at the church.
William Woodring, Kevin Tippets, Suzette & Herb Chavers, Gurumantra Khalsa, and myself have actual printed documents and maps from this meeting. William, Kevin, and myself would be happy to share with anyone who wishes to see them. Just let us know.
Notes Sent on Behalf of Mary Simons