SEMINOLE — Parents of grade school children again pressed city council members March 23 for increased safety measures at Orange Grove Elementary, saying traffic conditions at the school had worsened.
The dangers faced by pedestrians and bicyclists as drivers pick up or drop off students has been a recurring topic during the public forum segments of council meetings for several weeks.
Melissa McCauley told council members that “it’s just getting out of hand.” She said that earlier in the week her husband was threatened by a man leaving the school. First, the man threatened to beat him up, and then to kill him.
McCauley said Orange Grove staff was “very efficient” at loading students into vehicles at the end of the school day, generally clearing all the students in about 25 minutes. This was possible, she said, “because drivers speed in disregard of pedestrians.”
“We want the same standards as other schools in terms of signage,” McCauley told the officials, warning that people could be injured.
Erin Schofield, a resident of 56th Avenue, said she and other residents in the area also had been threatened. She asked the council to reach out to residents on 56th Avenue to find resolution to the problem.
“We want to be there,” Schofield said. “We want to be by your side every step of the way.”
Mayor Leslie Waters urged City Manager Ann Toney-Deal to keep affected residents up to date on city plans, while council member Jim Olliver noted that neighbors near the school had made a series of suggestions, such as dropping the speed limit to 15 mph.
Toney-Deal responded that an analysis of traffic around the school currently being undertaken was “almost identical” to a study done a year ago. She promised a “comprehensive response” would be forthcoming.
On another subject, residents said they wanted the city to provide more pickleball courts.
Pamela Finelli and Lois Peters both asked the panel to allocate more courts for pickleball, or to modify existing tennis courts for the game, which they said was increasing in popularity.
Finelli noted that one of the four tennis courts at the city recreation center had been restriped for pickleball and asked if one of the three other courts could be altered to allow for more pickleball players. She said there were “only a few days” during the work week when one of the other courts was used by tennis players.
Peters said that “pickleball courts are highly used, while tennis courts aren’t.” She said pickleball players spend “half their time” waiting for time on the pickleball court.
Toney-Deal said pickleball courts are also available at some of the other city parks.
She added that, as a tennis player, “striping for pickleball is not something a tennis player wants” because the additional lines can cause confusion during play.
Recreation Director Becky Gunter said other pickleball courts were available inside the recreation center but were not used.