The question was posed after school directors authorized a traffic study last night along with the purchase of a second Leetsdale residential property at 706 Beaver St.
"Why would you vote on that now before the traffic study is complete?" Ford of Leetsdale asked the school board.
The votes passed 7-0 with board members Danielle Burnette and Debbie Miller absent. School board member Kay Wijekumar participated over the phone.
Board President Jack Norris said the board's actions and discussions have been clear that there has been some interest from the three adjacent property owners nearest to the high school wanting to sell their properties.
"They had a desire to sell, they expressed that to us," Norris said in response to Ford's question. "They can't sell it in the market place because of what we're doing in these public meetings and we've agreed to purchase the properties under terms acceptable by them."
The board hired David E. Wooster and Associates, Inc. to perform a comprehensive traffic study at the high school for $24,410. The cost will be taken from the bond issue fund. The home was purchased at 706 Beaver St. for $150,000, not including the real estate commissions the district paid during closing, school officials said.
School leaders have said that three neighboring homes to the high school, in the 700 block of Beaver Street, are necessary for a conceptual plan to construct a bus turnaround, student drop-off area for parents and a parking lot.
Ford wasn't the only resident to question the board's actions. John Kroeck of Leetsdale, who sat with a bright yellow protest sign, hand delivered the board a letter in opposition to the property acquisitions.
Leetsdale resident Lt. Col. Maynard Moody also asked why the property puchases took place before a new traffic study was complete.
"What happens," Moody asked, "if the traffic study says your plans are not the best or the most cost-effective way to solve the problem?"
Norris said the homes would be resold if the properties aren't needed.
"We're paying the market value for the homes. We're allowing the residents to continue on their life plan and for some reason if we don't use those properties, we're putting them back on the market," Norris said.
Susan Comerci of Edgeworth said as a parent of three children, she's concerned about her children crossing in front of buses to enter the school safely. At the same time, she said she has terminally ill relatives who would like to attend concerts at the high school, but can't make the climb up the hill.
She suggested making the passage one-way from the lower parking lot to the upper parking lot. She also suggested taking out the parking spots and having two lanes divided for buses, cars and pedestrians so their paths don't cross.
District resident Jeff Fedorchak offered the board his support in addressing the ongoing safety issues and trying to find a permanent solution. He said he is a school administrator in another district and understands school safety is of the utmost importance.
"My stepson will be entering the high school next year so this is very personal to me," he said.
School officials said the consultants started collecting data in good faith last week. The traffic study is expected to be completed six to eight weeks after the final data is collected. The results should be ready in the fall.