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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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School, City Seek "Teeth" For Emery Parking Rules

Issue Date: January 24, 2018

The City of Peshtigo may soon be attaching some teeth to signs that prohibit parents from stopping across the street from Peshtigo Elementary School on the east side of Emery Avenue to drop youngsters off in the morning or pick them up in the afternoon.

Responding to a request from Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center Principal Kelly Collins to help keep youngsters safe, Peshtigo City Council's Streets and Drainage Committee voted unanimously to ask the Judiciary Committee to change some ordinances so police can ticket violators. They also officially asked the Judiciary Committee to update the wording on the ordinance prohibiting on-street parking in the school bus loading zone on the west side of Emery Avenue.

The action came after discussion with Brian Williams, the school's Director of Buildings and Grounds, who came to relay Collins' request since she could not attend.

Williams told of several near misses, when youngsters who squeezed between busses and dashed across the street in the heavy traffic of pickup and drop off hours were nearly struck by another vehicle. He said there are currently signs prohibiting parking there during the morning and afternoon drop off times, but since there is no ordinance, police can not issue tickets to violators. He quickly added it is not the school's intent to get parents ticketed, but it is their hope to keep youngsters from getting killed or injured. He expressed hope police would start with verbal warnings and issue a ticket only if the violation persisted.

He explained the school's safe pickup/drop off routine in which parents pull into the designated area six cars at a time. School Staff, using walkie talkies from inside the building and at the curb, finds out who is there and sends the kids out. That set of parents drives off and the next set comes in. No one has to cross traffic to get to the vehicle that has come for them.

However, that process takes time, and the line of waiting vehicles can be long. The dropoff area directly in front of the schools is big enough for six to eight cars at a time, and it is clearly marked. Williams said Collins estimated about 20 parents regularly stop in the prohibited area to pick up their youngsters or drop them off. There is an alternative in which parents who do not want to wait in the line can park in Badger Park, cross at the crosswalk, and walk to the school to collect their children. Alderman Brigitte Schmidt commented picking up her children, "is an interesting half hour of the day."

There are areas farther south on Emery where parking is allowed, and there is a crossing guard, but Williams said the school tries very hard to avoid having kids walk across the street.

Williams said the police have been fantastic about helping them enforce safety regulations and repeated, "Our goal isn't to have parents ticketed for this".Our goal is to make it safer for kids." He added, "It's amazing how things change when a police car is there."

Alderman Mike Behnke said the city has been working with the school for several years on safety issues, "trying to find something that works." He noted there is also a drop off area on the other side of the school that parents could use. Williams said there is, and the playground gate on that side is left open.

To committee concerns about limiting summer and special event parking in that area, Police Chief Joe FitzGerald suggested they can put bags over the signs when parking is not an issue.

Director of Public Works George Cowell will have his workers put up the signs, ""but whatever signs we put up have to match our ordinance."

The committee then voted to ask the Judiciary Committee to write the ordinance so the signs will read, "No Stopping, No Standing, No Parking, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, By City Ordinance." If Judiciary concurs the action will go to Council to become official.

Williams said the parents coming from the south can go up to the Badger Park corner, turn around and come back to drop their children off at the sidewalk on the school side of Emery Ave. The prohibited area is to be on the east side of Emery Ave. from North West Front Street to East Park Drive.

"The more children we can stop from crossing that street the better," Williams declared.

Schmidt asked if they also needed an ordinance related to the school bus parking area on the west side of Emery. After Cowell read the existing ordinance everyone agreed it needs some changes. Alderman Tom Gryzwa commented as currently written, even busses are not allowed to park there. That too is being sent to Judiciary for correction.

Present for the meeting were committee members Schmidt and Behnke, and Chair Debbie Sievert, plus Gryzwa and Alderman Jillian Schutte, Cowell, FitzGerald and Williams.

Another parking issue that indirectly involves students came up next for discussion.

FitzGerald said Mayor Cathi Malke had brought to his attention that students can and do park all day on Ellis and Oconto avenues, and this is causing complaints from business owners in that area.

FitzGerald said Malke had suggested two hour parking limits there. That request too was referred to Judiciary. Everyone present agreed this was not a school issue, but is a problem for businesses, and favored the two hour parking limit. Overnight parking is already prohibited in winter.

Cowell said the mayor also had received a request to put a cross walk from the parking lot on the south side of Ogden Road to the Aacer Flooring factory on the north side. Cowell said generally they do not put cross walks in the middle of the block, but in this area the block is 1,600 feet long, and there are already sidewalks from the parking lot to the street and from that Aacer entry to the street. There is another entry to Aacer, where Schutte said many workers cross, but Cowell recommended only putting one walk.

Schutte wondered if the request had come from the mill owners or from employees. FitzGerald felt they would not need an ordinance change as long as the crosswalk is marked and signed. Marking the area cannot be done until spring in any case.

Cowell said the owner of a property on Oconto Ave. has a tenant who needs access to handicap parking and has asked the city to restrict one of the on-street parking spots for handicap use only. Cowell noted once the spot is designated any handicapped vehicle can park there, so it might not always be available for the tenant in any case.

Committee concerns included questions as to whether the owner had added an apartment without providing parking as required by city ordinance, where the tenant parks now, and where the tenant would park at night, since overnight parking is prohibited in winter. However, they agreed having a handicap parking spot there is probably a good idea, and referred the request to Council, with a recommendation that location of the spot be left to Cowell. It needs to be near a driveway or curb cut ramp for a wheelchair to get from the street to the sidewalk.

Committee members felt this might not solve the problem the owners is concerned about. They suggested if the request were in writing or if the property owner had been present he could have answered some of their questions. This led to a suggestion that they should require all requests to be put in writing. The person making the request then would be invited to attend the meeting at which it would be addressed.

Before the meeting adjourned, Gryzwa reminded Cowell and the committee that the Finance Committee, which he chairs, will be finalizing 2018 capital improvement fund allocations at its 8 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, March 13. He said this refers to money that has been put in the budget to be spent in 2018, but the auditor has advised that everything included should be finalized now, "so we know what we're faced with borrowing for the year."


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