Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pedestrian safety committee formed

June 5, 2008

In an effort to see more sidewalks throughout Eudora, officials from Eudora USD 491, the city of Eudora, citizens of Eudora and Safe Kids Douglas County have formed the Eudora Pedestrian Safety Committee.

The group first met early in the spring and met again May 23 to discuss grant applications for the areas of Eudora that most need sidewalks.

John Dreese, coordinator of Safe Kids Douglas County, said the group hopes to apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.

"Our idea was that the grants require community action committees, and if we have an established committee and we have goals and we're working toward something, that's going to look really good when we go to apply for grants," Dreese said.

Safe Kids Douglas County is affiliated with the National Safe Kids Program, which aims to prevent unintentional injuries to children younger than 14 via safety programs dealing with pedestrian, fire, bicycles, poison and child passengers.

Dreese said many of the $1,000 grants, such as the Walk This Way grant he wrote for Nottingham Elementary School a few years ago, are gained by just correctly filling out the applications. But in order to gain enough money to build sidewalks, grants in the $10,000 state-funded range are needed.

The committee would like to one day see a safe path for students to go over Kansas Highway 10 to the high school and middle school, but the construction of such a bridge currently is cost prohibitive. Dreese also said it would be difficult just to coordinate the required cooperation between the many organizations both private and public that would build the bridge.

Eudora Schools Interim Superintendent of Schools Don Grosdidier said it also would be unwise to build sidewalks along Church Street until there was a safer way for students to cross K-10.

"Until that bridge situation is taken care of, it's not real feasible to put the sidewalks in there because you're encouraging more kids to walk and it's not really a safe place to walk and cross there," he said.

For its part on the committee, Grosdidier said the school district would be able to help by contributing data from studies regarding population increases and high-density areas of children.

"The school district is willing to participate with them, and we'll support them in any way we can," he said.

Grosdidier also said the important points many of the meeting's attendees took away were the awareness of information partners could bring to table to support grants and a greater awareness of issues throughout area as seen through the eyes of others.

That participation by the city officials and citizens will be key, as community support is integral to the process of earning the grants.

"If we have involvement, then we'll probably have success; if we don't have involvement, we're not likely to have success," Dreese said. "So it's a make-or-break deal."

After the May 23 meeting, the committee decided to pursue grant money that would go toward the installation of sidewalks along Elm Street between NES and the Eudora Community Center.

"We want to be as smart about this as possible and do what we can with the money we have," Dreese said. "Our idea now is to get everybody together in Eudora and not only deal from a safety perspective, which is what most of this grant money is for, but also from a health and recreation perspective. The idea is that you've got a growing little town, so you plan ahead."

Oct. 8 is International Walk to School Day for students in kindergarten through second grade, and the committee plans on having a communitywide summit sometime that month.

"We don't want to just have a meeting, we want to make things happen and move forward," Dreese said.

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