Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Steamboat Springs Like ice across town, concerns about the Strawberry Park school complex parking lot keep getting thicker.
At a meeting of the Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday night, three school district bus drivers -- along with Michael Loomis, a former School Board member and bus driver -- reiterated their concerns about the icy, snow-packed, "chaotic" parking lot between Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs Middle School. Loomis said the area is "an accident waiting to happen."
"Kids are crossing everywhere in that parking area," said Loomis, a member of the city's Education Fund Board. "We need to stop the traffic and get safe lines of passage for pedestrians."
Concerns about the parking lot have been brewing for weeks. Heavy snow this winter has obscured parking lanes and crosswalks. Bus driver Bethany Aurin brought the situation to light at a Feb. 6 School Board meeting by relating an incident in which a car got stuck on the icy hill leading out of the school.
At Monday's meeting, an in-depth discussion took place among district administrators, board members and the bus drivers, who asked for increased signage, lane markings and crossing attendants after school.
"I would agree with virtually every recommendation that's been made," district Facilities Director Rick Denney said. "Manpower is a problem."
Aurin said a Routt County sheriff's officer has helped guide traffic in the lot after school every day for the past week and a half.
Superintendent Donna How--ell and School Board Pres--ident Tom Miller-Freutel said a meeting between school staff and district administrators needs to happen "as soon as possible."
Howell said parents also need to be involved in finding solutions for the parking and pickup situation.
Transportation Director Ed Dingledine said parents can help by using patience in the parking lot, driving in the appropriate pickup lanes and encouraging their children to use designated crosswalks.
Betsy Zimmerman, a bus driver for 30 years, said the situation "has become worse than any year since I've been driving."
Denney said a lack of storm sewers around the parking lot causes water to run down the hill, collect and freeze, exacerbating drainage problems caused by a middle school that is built lower than the parking lot.
"I can't imagine the thaw this year," Aurin said.
-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org