Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2001

West-side sidewalks delayed to detriment of students’ safety

August 16, 2001

This time of year always makes us pause. Not because of the slower traffic traveling into Lawrence as distraught parents drop their kids off for another semester. And not because the sun blinds drivers coming home from an outing to that shopping district east of our fair city.

No, we pause for the kids walking down Eudora's streets, on their way to and from school. They walk down the street because there are no sidewalks on the town's west side. Classes start on Tuesday and as another year begins with young students having to trudge to school on the west side without sidewalks, we offer a word of advice: caution.

There's a reason school buses have flashing lights. They warn that children may be crossing the street. Kids walking to school aren't afforded the luxury of warning drivers with anything other than their saggy jeans, oversized backpacks and misplaced angst.

The city council has budgeted $149,000 for a city engineer and a city administrator, with the decision on which position the council deems necessary to be determined at a later, undetermined date. Perhaps some of that money could be used to solve the sidewalk problem: flashing lights for every student. Sure it would look funny to have a flashing yellow beacon on the kids' backpacks, but in the name of safety, maybe we should try it. The school district would certainly be happy to share in the costs of the Velcro used to attach them.

We were happy to see the long-range planning meeting identify sidewalks as a top concern. Here's our question: why is that a long-range concern? We need sidewalks now, not in five, 10 or 20 years. Eudora's only practicing lawyer has to be keeping a file on spending decisions the city has identified as higher priorities than our children. That fateful day he gets a call from parents who lost a child-he'll be ready.

It's time the property owners along 14th Street and the city formed a joint venture. Appoint a council member to head up an effort looking for grant money. Create a benefit district. It won't be easy, but at what price, child safety?

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