On Friday afternoon, there was a minor traffic accident during school pick-up at Brookside Elementary. According to my wife and kids, it sounded a lot worse than it was. Luckily, no one was hurt. This was before the four month Brookside Ave road closure went into effect.
We have heard from board members and district administrators how the primary factor in the traffic mess is parents, either not paying attention to what they are doing or just ignoring the rules and doing whatever they want. This may be true in some cases, I've seen it myself. However, in my opinion, a good parking lot design should take away parents' ability to do the wrong thing. Parents following the rules, are at risk of being hit by those who are not. The district needs to make the process idiot proof. It is time to stop blaming parents and do something.
Brookside Ave is now closed, east of Beaumont Ave, through the end of the school year and there is still no plan to address the traffic concerns around Brookside Elementary. We were shown a preliminary plan at our last School Site Council meeting. The plan expanded the parking lot; added more spaces; and reduced the playground area but it did nothing to fix the traffic problems. We heard promises from the administration's representative to hold an evening meeting for more parent input but nothing has been scheduled yet. I asked the Assistant Superintendent responsible for the district's construction projects, Mr. Wael Elatar, to post the preliminary parking lot re-designs on the district's Current Projects web page but nothing has been posted. I understand plans and cost estimates for the parking lot redesigns for both Brookside and Tournament Hills have been provided to the school board members but, if no plans have been posted on the Current Projects Page, is anything is really in the works?
I've sent Mr. Elatar an inquiry to the status for the Brookside project and I will post his response once I receive it. I believe it is irresponsible at a minimum, and possibly criminally negligent, to build the stadium and the new district office across the street from an elementary school with serious traffic issues while doing nothing to make the school safer. I'm not familiar with the safety issues at Tournament Hills but if they are anything like Brookside, I hope someone is keeping an eye on what the district is planning.
Something needs to be done soon. It's only a matter of time until another accident happens and next time everyone may not be so fortunate.