By Kevin Kelley
The city plans to apply for $448,000 in grant money from the state’s Safe Routes to School program, which funds various projects designed to make walking to school safer for students in kindergarten through grade eight. Money would be used to install new sidewalks, repair existing sidewalks and make other traffic changes around the city’s public schools.
Two resolutions authorizing the grant application are presently before Fairview Park City Council for its approval, which is expected.
Fairview Park development administrator Matthew Hrubey has been working on the Safe Routes program with officials of the Fairview Park City Schools and parents since August.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) administers the program and funds 20 percent of the grants. The rest of the money comes from the federal Department of Transportation.
The grant application is split into two sections – infrastructure projects and non-infrastructure projects. Not surprisingly, the infrastructure projects cost the most amount of money.
Money for 21 infrastructure projects is being requested by the city. The largest of these is a $125,000 request to overhaul the intersection at West 210th Street and Campus Drive, at the southeast corner of the athletic field at Fairview High School. The traffic light there lacks pedestrian signals. The grant application seeks money to perform a traffic study and, if needed, install new signals with pedestrian push buttons and signals and add disability-compliant pedestrian curb ramps.
That intersection had been identified by the city as one in need of an upgrade, Hrubey told West Life.
Another $15,000 was requested to conduct a feasibility study of making Campus Drive and nearby side streets one-way during specific hours to reduce congestion while parents are dropping off or picking up students at Lewis F. Mayer Middle School.
A request of $21,000 would be used to repair sidewalks on Alexander Road between West 220th and West 223rd street for student walking to and from Gilles-Sweet Elementary School.
“All suggested improvements take place on or near the schools,” Hrubey explained during a recent council committee meeting.
The city has also requested $14,700 for non-infrastructure programs. These requests include $7,000 to conduct a bike rodeo, a clinic to teach young children bicycle safety, and $500 to establish a student safety patrol.
“There’s a lot of excitement that should be around the non-infrastructure requests,” Hrubey said.
Involvement of parents and area businesses will be required to implement the non-infrastructure programs, he added.
The city should learn in May if and how much of its grant request will be granted by ODOT, Hrubey said.
“I’m very optimistic,” Hrubey told council members. ODOT can choose to fund some requested programs and not others, he explained.
The city does not have to contribute any money to the projects that are approved, he added.
As long as Safe Routes for Schools continues to be funded at the state and federal levels, Fairview Park can seek money for additional projects in future years, Hrubey said.
Hrubey said he would like to expand the program to include projects in and around the city’s parochial schools, St. Angela Merici School and Messiah Lutheran School.
Hrubey said he has not heard any inquiries from any private school stakeholders about the program. He said he wanted to limit the focus on projects near the city’s public schools for the first year of Fairview Park’s application for funds.