SEMINOLE — Parents of students at Orange Grove Elementary School pleaded with city council members Feb. 23 for help with what they considered very dangerous traffic conditions on streets surrounding the school.

They described long queues of vehicles, blocked sightlines, and near-collisions with students around the school just south of 66th Avenue and 104th Street.

Leah Ryan described how, when traffic backed up, no one could see around the cars. Her family lives one block from the elementary school, and she said when she walks across the intersection at 103rd Street, it is difficult to see vehicles turning onto 103rd. She would like her older son, who is in junior high school, to walk her elementary age child to the school, but “it scares me” for them to deal with the traffic by themselves. Some cars go around the line of cars entering the school and don’t slow down, she said.

Ryan told the council it seemed like “the safety of the neighborhood children is not being put in front of the neighborhood agenda.”

Her son, Gabriel, said when he attended Orange Grove Elementary, there were several occasions when cars didn’t slow down for him.

Another parent, Melissa McCauley, told the council, “all we want is to be safe for our kids — school zones, sidewalks, signs, something that indicates our kids are walking.”

Seminole Elementary, about a mile away, has signs and signals indicating a school zone, and a crossing guard located about six blocks away. Orange Grove has none of those things, she said.

She suggested that Penny for Pinellas sales tax funds could be used to fund those items.

Erin Schofield charged that the traffic situation around the school was “consistently getting worse day by day.” Her voice seemed to break as she described how she, her daughter and several other people were almost hit by vehicles. The entrance at 65th Avenue and 103rd Street is “extremely dangerous,” she said. Because such incidents occur off school grounds, the school district does not consider them a district problem, she said.

Mayor Leslie Waters told the group the city is aware of the situation and that city staff was working with the Sheriff’s Office to find a resolution.

Later in the meeting, City Manager Ann Toney-Deal, responding to a question by council member Trish Springer about the possibility of adding sidewalks, said that “many paths” had to be traveled to improve traffic-pedestrian interactions around the school. Toney-Deal said she would have a meeting with the Sheriff’s Office and Pinellas County Schools. She noted that when the city installed a radar speed sign near Seminole Middle School last year, it did alleviate some of the traffic problems.

“Everything is on the table,” she said.

Council member Jim Olliver said the city has the authority to install sidewalks on 66th Avenue and possibly additional striping.

Waters asked if police presence could be increased around the school in a “wolf pack”-style operation to control speeding.

Toney-Deal said something like that could be done on a smaller scale. Currently, she said, studies are being done to determine the times of day when traffic is heaviest.

Some residents are complaining the trees along 66th Avenue are reducing visibility, said council member Chris Burke. Some of those trees are deteriorating, and should be replaced, he said, and the street re-landscaped.