2011 Traffic Safety and Parking Comments

Parents, if you have comments to add to this list, please email leeartspta@gmail.com.

1.  Make Waugh a one-way street (north only).  Vehicles feeding into Locust heading south from Broadway on Waugh are disruptive to the traffic flow during drop-off and pick-up, when it’s very congested.

2.  It would be great if we could discourage non-school-related traffic on Locust during drop-off and pick-up times.  I don’t know how you would do this, though.

I think the handbill looks good, although I’d like to contribute some additional facts that make our situation more difficult.  There is no mention that Locust, at this section,  is a one-way street, offering it’s own challenges.  And historically, there have been lots of traffic collisions (with pedestrians) as drivers turn onto College Avenue. Also, MU students use Locust,  as we are near to campus, and MANY of them do not yeild to the school zone speed limit.  I have personally noticed an increase of college student traffic with the completion of the two new student apartment complexes located just a block West of Lee.  I think we need to stress that the traffic is only getting worse!

As I write, I wonder if making Waugh a two way street might ease some congestion too? Although that might eliminate the parking spots along there….  Can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned down Waugh to be met by some car racing that little stretch to cut through the parking lot.  Perhaps another point to include.

Cars speed past the school regularly. Could we have a flashing school zone sign (powered by solar) or speed bumps in front of the school on Locust to make it more clear that this is a school zone and to slow down drivers.

MU students are parking in front of the school (in the corner gray zone) and on Locust in the gray zone. Would a school “warning” note be useful in deterring those students from parking in these areas?

If all else fails, we could propose having a safety patrol of adult volunteers or 5th grade patrols to help keep students safe.

Parents should be reminded not to use cell phones or be texting while driving at drop off and release times—very dangerous.

Parents should be reminded that their car must be pulled to the curb before students can enter the vehicle. Having students run out into the street is so dangerous!

I think it is worth noting what has been done already.  There are parking zones that are not ticketed or towed during pick up and drop off.  I think acknowledging what has already been accomplished would help grease the wheels for more change.  I also think one of those speed limit signs that shows how fast you are going would be helpful.  People drive WAY to fast down locust.  As the development increases in that area the traffic is just going to get worse.  Maybe there could be no parking on one side of the street, that would make for less congestion.  If not all of the street, maybe just from half way up locust to the school.  (like waugh is only parking on one side of the street and it seems much less congested.  As sidewalk on the parking side of waugh would help too.

Need to acknowledge that MU students take advantage of “free” parking around the school and take up much needed places where free 20 min. parking is already available.

Biggest safety concern is a result of thru traffic, which is primarily MU student traffic. What about closing the block in front of Lee forcing through traffic up Waugh to Broadway and make closed block a parking lot?

Again, a request for Lee hangtags to be obtained from school after family enrollment is verified to be displayed in cars parking for school business during school hours and weekend events.

Major changes are needed—we don’t want a child injured or killed.

Do we need to have a traffic study done so that we have “facts” to take to the city as proof of the problems.

We could follow the examples set by other school and have parent pick up at on off-site location. Similar to the afternoon Walking School Bus, but the pick up would be standard, all year. This would solve the traffic congestion and safety issues that are so problematic for so many during the 3:30 – 4 pm dismissal time. Or, we could have certain grades (ie 3-5 and siblings) picked up at an off-site location and younger grades still released in front of the school.

Drivers have no idea that they are going through a school zone. They can’t see signage and signage often gets vandalized or stolen.

14th Amendment pertains to our concerns—Guaranteed Equal Access to schools

My main concern is the disregard some people seem to have for the No Parking signs in front of the school.  That space is meant for the buses at that time, and they clearly say so.  People know it, and yet don’t appear to think that it applies to them.  In addition, people parking almost all the way to the stop signs creates another bottleneck that reduces efficiency of getting out.  The school and/or the city NEED TO START ENFORCING THE NO PARKING SIGNS and general parking rules, period.  One person breaking these parking laws and regulations makes it harder for everyone else. That to me, seems an easily remedied problem.

Here’s an idea my husband thought of for people parking in the bus lane:

set out some orange cones where the buses are to pull in, like a half-dozen or so between the two signs, and simply remove them when the buses approach to park.  In addition, this area could also be designated as an Emergency/Fire Truck lane to prevent parking there at any time.  I don’t think it is going to hurt any able-bodied parent, guardian or caretaker to walk a little bit further.

Of course, speeding and non-attention of university students and other drivers  is another problem.  I have witnessed more than just the occasional driver exceeding 30/35 mph through the school zone, ignoring stop signs, right-of-way, etc.  After school yesterday, my daughter and I actually witnessed a minor collision between a driver and  the Boys and Girls Club van…

There really isn’t any other reason to be on that street at that time unless it is a car dropping off or picking up a student. While we are aware that Locust is a public thoroughfare, could there be a way to restrict traffic on that block of Locust to buses and parent pick-up traffic ONLY from 8:30-9 and 3:30-4 (maybe a crossing guard, Lee school car decals/stickers)?

I don’t know what a smart or logical solution is, but something definitely needs to be done to alleviate the congestion, lack of adherence to parking rules and the efficiency and safety issues affecting dropping off and picking up all of our children.

Currently the school is unable to provide any parking for parents who must pick up and drop off their children by car or who want to come to Lee during school hours to eat lunch with their children, attend daytime school events, and/or volunteer.  Parents or other visitors to the school must pay to use metered street parking.  Such parking is limited, often resulting in parents driving in front of the school at pick-up times, waiting for children to run out to their car.

1.   Cars. I do not think it is a valid assumption that 340 residents will not have cars, friends with cars, or that they will not want to park near the building where they live.

2. Parking. Currently, there is barely sufficient parking around Lee Elementary for staff, student teachers, Adventure Club staff, and parent volunteers on a normal day.    The staff parking lot facing College Ave has students parked in it on the weekends and the school has had to have cars towed so that teachers can park in their assigned spaces on Monday mornings.  Student teachers and parent volunteers are left to park in the metered spaces on the street, which have a time limit. They have to run out and add money to the meters to avoid a ticket.  Parents, including me, have noted that it seems like the meter monitors lurk around the school at pick-up time waiting to ticket parents who run in to pick up their kids without putting a quarter in the meter.

Lee is an “expressive arts” school which means there are many opportunities for families to come to the school to watch performances by the students, both during the school day and in the evenings.   There are no handicapped spaces along the street by the school, so it’s difficult for grandparents with limited mobility to attend these events. With no reserved parking, they have to be dropped off by another family member who may have to park a block or more away, then fetch the car to pick them up afterward.

Sacred Heart church has been, in my opinion, exceedingly gracious about not complaining when parents park in their lot during school events, at regular pickup time, and on particularly chaotic early-release days.  For parents who work and have to take time off to attend school events during the day, having convenient parking can make the difference between attending your child’s school assembly and not attending because of the time it takes to find parking and walk to the school, and then retrieve their car afterward.

Without the Sacred Heart lot available to the school, the parking situation would be really intolerable.

The limited amount of metered parking on and around Locust St. will see more competition from apartment residents and friends that visit them.

Parent involvement and access to the school directly affects the quality of the educational environment. Reducing that access by eliminating parking cannot possibly be anything other than detrimental to the school.

3.  Traffic and safety. Traffic congestion around Lee Elementary at drop-off and pick-up time is already really bad.  I have seen young drivers who get caught in school congestion get frustrated and try to squeeze past the buses when there are kids moving around getting off the bus and out of cars, making for a very unsafe situation.   When there is less congestion, cars fly down Locust past the school at unsafe speeds.  The metered parking on the north side of the street (directly across from the school) means kids are getting out of cars and crossing the street in traffic.  Parents are careful, school staff are watchful, but it is still not a very safe situation. Adding more local traffic to this immediate area without any substantial changes or improvements will make it worse.

4. Trash and noise. Beer cans and garbage already land in the school playground from the adjacent rental houses.  340 more residents on Locust St will generate that much more trash that will blow down the street further eroding the quality of the neighborhood and school environment.

5. School security. Lee is a neighborhood school, not an inner city school, but the more hemmed in it becomes by intense development and traffic,  the more that will change, deteriorating the safety and security of the school.

6.  Community. This concern is a little harder to articulate, but I will do my best.

Lee Elementary is the neighborhood school for East Campus.  It’s also a unique and amazingly excellent school whose attendance is 50% by application.  Parents want their kids to go to Lee because it is an incredibly good school with a unique arts-centric theme made possible in large part because of its proximity to MU, Stephens and downtown. Proximity gives the school walking-distance-access to the museums, theaters and art that enriches the curriculum and makes it so unique.  Lee students, in turn, enrich central Columbia. Lee student artists paint murals, put art in restaurant and store windows, march in the True/False parade; they partner with RagTag, Missouri Theater, the Museum of Art and Archeology, Stephens theater department and so much more. Lee Elementary is a Columbia treasure that should be protected from all the possible negative affects of development around it.

I don’t just say that because my child is a student there.

My husband and I have owned our home in East Campus for nearly 16 years.  We both work at MU.  Most days I walk my daughter to school at Lee, then walk to work.   But we didn’t have to compete for a spot for our daughter at Lee Elementary.  Lee School is a big reason why families live in East Campus despite the challenges of noise, trash, parking, fireworks, etc.  It’s one of the reasons East Campus remains a mixed-use neighborhood, and frankly, one of the reasons it hasn’t devolved into the “student ghetto” that some purport it to be.

As long as we’ve lived in East Campus, we’ve participated in the neighborhood association and have been active voices for preserving the unique mixed-use nature of East Campus by speaking out about ordinance and zoning changes that effect the neighborhood; communicating with student tenants, police and our council member about noise issues, trash, parking etc.  We are well versed in the challenges of living among student renters.

The family, professional and retired residents of East Campus are a balancing force by demonstrating personal responsibility, neighborly qualities, and being de facto watchers and enforcers. We ask the neighbor kids not to put their trash out early and to pick up their beer cans; we call the police when parties get out of hand or fireworks go off.  Our neighbors don’t necessarily adore us,  insofar as they wouldn’t want their parents living next door; but they usually respond to our neighborly suggestions/requests/admonishments and by and large respect that we are here.  In 16 years, however, we have seen the erosion in number of single-family homes in the neighborhood, and have observed the corresponding increase in crime, trash and noise problems.   Why are we still here? Having such an amazingly excellent, unique and safe elementary school so close is a really big reason.

My point here is that Lee School is a factor in what makes central Columbia great.   Erode the safety and quality of the educational environment of Lee Elementary and another reason for families to live in central Columbia is gone. Keeping families as part of the community mix is important to the overall quality of life.  Maybe building concentrated student housing downtown will bring more tax dollars and retail dollars, but is that the vision of central Columbia that everyone imagined during our visioning process? Pushing families and other long-term residents out of central Columbia in favor of homogenous student housing may make it a fun place for students to live, but not for the rest of us.