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Quaker Valley, Leetsdale Property Owners Disagree on Traffic Solutions

Residents met with the board Tuesday night to review preliminary drawings and discuss other options.

A group of  seeking to resolve a high school traffic problem met again Tuesday with school board members.

 is looking to provide parents with a separate off-street student drop-off area where three homes currently stand between the  and Village Drive, the back entrance to the Quaker Village Shopping Center complex.

Residents looking for answers after and were invited back Tuesday night to view conceptual drawings.

Bob Naugle of Eckles Architecture provided residents with a review of the plans, pointing out that two properties at 700 and 704 Beaver St. could be used for a bus and car drop-off and a third property at 706 Beaver St. could provide enough room to landscape a buffer and green space between the homes.

Preliminary designs show a one-way bus lane with a gradual turn from Beaver Street and a separate turning lane for parents with about 64 new parking spaces that officials said would get parked cars off the streets.

Naugle also reviewed earlier design variations that could be chosen using only two residential properties.

District Judge Robert Ford, who lives on the small block, asked what was to stop the district five to 10 years down the road from taking more houses for additional parking. 

Naugle assured residents that discussions have only involved using up to three properties.

School Board President Jack Norris said the district was scheduled to close soon on a home at 704 Beaver St. for $250,000 and was working to negotiate a sale price for 700 Beaver St., a key property nearest to the school. The district hasn’t been able to reach a price agreement with owner Virginia Schneider and her daughter, Amy Arnold.

"We have three-fourths of an acre and you want to give us pennies," Arnold told board members Tuesday. 

Norris previously said that the district had a right to invoke eminent domain -- the power of governments to confiscate private property for public use -- if an agreement can’t be reached. If eminent domain is invoked, the district would have to pay the homeowners fair market value. 

But school director David Pusateri said Tuesday the board would prefer to come to an agreement "without having to go that way."

 said what he finds upsetting is that Quaker Valley district officials appear to have on a long-term plan without any input from borough residents or officials.

“I think everything has been pre-decided and there’s no interest in what our intentions are and what we think needs to be done …,” McGurk told the board Tuesday. “I think there are other options that can be considered and I don’t think the board is considering them.”

School director Gianni Floro said it wasn’t true and that the board has reached out to the borough and residents. He said plans aren't set.

“No decisions have been made. These are plans,” Floro said.

While residents said they felt there were more viable, less expensive options than the plan being considered, school officials seemed to agree that taking down the three homes would provide the best possible layout to fix the problem. 

Norris estimated the tax loss would amount to $3,800, a figure McGurk said would be a much harder hit to the small borough’s tax base than the district's.

Administrators and board members said they won’t support any option that mixes school buses with parents dropping off students, because it was not safe for pedestrians or drivers. 

After hearing about student safety last week, McGurk said he observed traffic on Route 65 and watched numerous cars pull into the school's back lot with no problems. He also had the police department pull accident reports from the past five years on Route 65 and Beaver Street, but said he found no history of vehicle accidents.

“There have been no accidents, no injuries, nobody hurt in five years,” McGurk said.

“That’s simply not true,” Superintendent Joseph Clapper countered.

Clapper said it wasn't that long ago when a crash occurred outside the high school, adding that there have also been “near misses.”

“There are no police reports on near misses,” Clapper said.

Ford said there always was going to be danger. He suggested a turnaround off Route 65 as a solution, but board members appeared set against that idea.  

Norris said the board has considered and exhausted every option.

“We looked at all the other solutions; we don’t see it,” Norris said.

 

Resident Suggestions

 

Idea: A curb cut and governor's drive in front of the high school.

Rejected: The board had landscape architects and site planners look at this option in 2004 and it was dismissed because it’ was not functionally adequate, Board President Jack Norris said.  

Why? The turning radius wouldn’t work for buses coming off Beaver Street; it would take too much to pave the front yard; and the mix of vehicles would still exist. Also, this plan would not accommodate the need for additional parking.

 

Idea: Use Route 65 as an access point for either buses or cars to drop off students.

Rejected: This option was on the table previously as something to consider, but doesn't solve the issue, school board members said.

Why? It's too dangerous with heavy truck traffic on Route 65; students who use the lot currently have to exit right to get out and into traffic coming down the boulevard; cars and buses would still intermix.

 

Idea: Work something out to move traffic through the Terrace, the neighborhood plan on the other side of the school building.

Rejected: This option was also considered, but was found not to be viable. 

Why? You would have an influx of traffic using a residential neighborhood as a thoroughfare. 


Lucas George March 27, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Nothing like spending our tax money on the most costly solution right out of the gate. $250,000 for a property newly assessed by the county at $137,100...well done. The eminent domain threat is a joke. Go to court and spend yet more tax payer money to kick people out of their homes. School districts in this state are out of control.
John Linko March 29, 2012 at 02:41 PM
People seem more upset with the manner in which the resolution to the problem has been discussed than the problem itself. Some accuse the school district of acting with impunity toward their neighbors, and to be honest there seems to be some evidence of this. Even considering, for a minute, routing traffic through Victory Terrace, or mentioning the words 'eminent domain' at this stage of the the game gives me the impression that the school district knows they negotiate from a position of strength, and will flex those muscles whenever they want to accomplish their ends if intransigence persists from those who make up the community around them.
John Linko March 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
On the more practical side of things: 1. Beaver St. in front of the High School should be posted no stopping; this should be aggressively enforced. 2. The proposed parking areas, and the access to and from them, are a cause for concern. The parking area closest to Beaver St. is only accessible from the proposed parent dropoff entrance. People looking to park there who find the area full cannot transition to the secondary parking area without going completely around the school and entering again from the bus entrance. The secondary parking area has only one ingress and egress point. The district should (if they haven't already) approach the shopping center owners about the possibility of allowing for egress from this area into the rear of the shopping center. This would provide for a safer and more manageable traffic flow after major events, allow for ease of access to overflow parking in the event the area is full, and permit for easier egress in the event of an emergency.

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