By Kevin Kelley
If you drive down Mastick Road near Parkview School, be sure to observe the speed limit during the beginning and end of the school day.
Police Chief Patrick Nealon said officers will increase enforcement of the speed limit there after concerns were raised about safety.
Now called the Fairview Park Early Education Center, Parkview School is home to the school district’s kindergarten, day care and preschool programs. A co-op preschool also rents space in the building.
For years, flashing lights supplemented signs warning motorists that they were entering a school zone along Mastick. When city officials recently attempted to synchronize the flashing lights at each end of the school zone, the 30-year-old lights experienced malfunctions, and the decision was made to remove them. New signs denoting the school zone have been put in place.
Lisa O’Rourke, whose son attends the district’s preschool at the Parkview building, expressed concerns about the removal at a Feb. 13 committee meeting of Fairview Park City Council.
“It just seems, I guess, more dangerous with just the signs,” O’Rourke said. Her son, who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, often likes to run off if something draws his attention, she said. And the playground his class uses is not entirely fenced in, she noted.
Replacing the flashing lights would cost about $4,000, Nealon said, with solar-powered lights costing even more.
Acknowledging that flashing lights probably are better at getting motorists’ attention, the police chief said he believes the road in front of Parkview is safe without the lights. The signs in place now meet the state traffic standards, he said.
Before the new Gilles-Sweet School consolidated the district’s elementary grades in 2007, Parkview was home to students in grades four through six. Today, nearly all students are dropped off and picked up by car there, with nearly no students walking to school, Superintendent Brion Deitsch told council members.
Because Mastick is a county road, it would not be legal to decrease the speed limit from its current limit of 35 mph, Nealon said. Signs direct drivers to slow to 20 mph during restricted hours, which are defined by state law as when children are “present.”
In addition to increasing enforcement with unmarked patrol cars, Nealon said his department would monitor safety on Mastick near Parkview. Council members will be monitoring the issue as well, as they voted to keep the issue in committee.