Willow Lane Plans Approved in Narrow Vote
Directors of the East Penn School Board vote 4-3 in favor of approving physical changes to the Willow Lane Elementary School grounds.
In a vote that couldn't have been any closer, the East Penn School Board on Monday approved the physical changes—site revisions—to the Willow Lane Elementary School grounds.
Alan Earnshaw, Francee Fuller, Kenneth Bacher and President Charles Ballard voted in favor of the approval, and Lynn Donches, Julian Stolz and Michael Policano voted against.
Samuel Rhodes and Rebecca Heid were absent.
Ten parents approached the board during the public comment segment of the meeting to express their extreme displeasure with the plan that was presented at the Feb. 25 meeting.
Parent Susan Coenen presented a 17-page report that she says demonstrates that the district's plan is in direct conflict with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's "Safe Routes to School" standards. Though she did not have enough time to go through her report in its entirety, she did point out that having children walk across four lanes of traffic is "an extremely dangerous situation."
She also pointed out that the school district engineer had overlooked a problem area regarding the sidewalk along the schoolyard's back fence.
"The sidewalk is mountable. A vehicle can ride up and over the curb. It's easier to jump the curb, and it's not a suitable place for children to be walking," Coenen said.
She also said she has sent her report to PennDOT for its assessment of both plans.
Another parent, Donna Jurado, presented her ideas for a smoother, safer pick-up and drop-off process which she calls "Operation Hug." Both versions of her plan show ways that parents could "hug" the school building, allowing children to be dropped off at assigned doors of the school and thus facilitating a much safer delivery.
School District Engineer Paul Szewczak explained that children were never meant to walk across lanes of traffic during either pick-up or drop-off.
Indeed, the vote was for improving only the physical plans—a bump-out to accommodate turning buses, gates to restrict and guide traffic flow and more—not to identify the processes that will be put in place in the future.
The pick-up and drop-off processes, Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger said, will be formed after discussion between Willow Lane Principal Anthony Moyer and parent volunteers.
School district officials will present the approved plans to the Planning and Zoning subcommittee of the Township Board of Commissioners at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Lower Macungie Township Building.