No quick fix for 'scary' walk to school

Wednesday , June 11, 2014 - 12:12 PM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

NORTH OGDEN — The city council told the principal and PTA president of Majestic Elementary they may have to wait for the city to pay for a sidewalk or find some other form of funding.

The school and the PTA are petitioning the city to add a stretch of sidewalk along 2550 North just west of the North Ogden Aquatic Center and a charter school to ensure a safer walking route for elementary students to walk to Majestic.

Until last school year the students in the area had been bused to the school. But after a new road was created in Harrisville the busing need is no longer there because walking routes are not as far. However, the walking routes are not as safe.

The PTA and school has approached three cities involved – Harrisville, Pleasant View and North Ogden — to see if sidewalks can be added along the heavily traveled road where there is little or no sidewalk and sometimes not even curb and gutter and narrow roadways.

After the Weber School District decided last fall to discontinue busing, many parents started a carpool service and PTA president Liz Putnam said she made several trips a day carpooling kids to school.

“We have a lot of single parent families and so a lot of it was left to me and a few other moms,” Putman said.

She said she would often drive back and forth six times a day.

“That’s a lot of driving, but I wanted to make sure my kids were safe,” Putnam said.

City Manager Ron Chandler said the city got some rough numbers on what it would cost to put in the sidewalk in North Ogden’s portion, $20,000. He then went over some history of what costs the city had covered in the past. The city has paid for most sidewalks when requested by schools, often getting grants or some state funding to complete the jobs.

Most of the jobs haven’t been as costly or have come from a “safe sidewalks fund” that the city used to have but discontinued during the recession.

City Councilman Jim Urry suggested that the school look for other funding sources.

“This is important to all of us, but it needs to be a collaborative effort … people think the city is a money tree and let’s go get it,” Urry said.

City Councilman Kent Bailey agreed that he doesn’t want kids walking to school in unsafe conditions, but there are many school routes in the city that are unsafe and the city can’t fund all of those routes. He would like to see the school try to come up with some other funding sources, like maybe a fundraiser.

Principal Dave Wallace said he doesn’t mind collaboration, but that fundraisers are set to help with other needs the school has. He doesn’t want to see changing fundraisers for a sidewalk directly impact learning in the classrooms. He agrees that parents can get together and carpool, but that doesn’t meet the needs of all children.

“It’s a scary deal,” Wallace said.

Urry suggested the parents look into using the Utah Transit Authority bus service to get kids to school.

Bailey said he doesn’t only want to address the needs of schools that act as the “squeaky wheel” and get sidewalks because they are requesting them.

“It’s sad so much of our city was built without sidewalks,” Bailey said.

Councilman Lynn Satterthwaite thinks that all the groups can work together to figure something out so a sidewalk can be put in.

“We can figure this out globally,” he said.

Both Putnam and Wallace agreed to think of some other ideas and meet with the city again. Putnam would like to see a plan in motion this summer so when school starts there is a better way.

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