Council amends traffic map around Sidney Middle School

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Legislation to amend the traffic control map around Sidney Middle School was adopted during Monday’s Sidney City Council meeting. The changes come in an effort to address vehicular traffic patterns near the middle school on Fair Road during student pick-up times.

Public Works Director Jon Crusey introduced an ordinance dealing with the traffic map Monday that was passed as an emergency. He informed council he had attended a meeting with Police Chief Will Balling, the Shelby County Commissioners, Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble and other school administrators on Aug. 17 to address vehicular traffic patterns near Sidney Middle School. This has a topic of concern among council members for several months.

In June, due to vehicular issues leading to complaints about parents blocking streets and driveways as they wait for their children to be dismissed, new parking regulations around the Sidney Middle School were adopted by City Council.

Crusey reported at the school meeting Humble recommended reverting the bus and vehicular traffic patterns back to the traffic patterns utilized while the Fair Road bridge was under construction. Under this scenario, all bus traffic would access the middle school from Fair Road and vehicular pick-up and drop-off traffic would enter from the traffic signal on Fourth Avenue. In order to accommodate the proposal, Crusey said several changes to the map were necessary. He also noted because school starts on Sept. 7, it is necessary to adopt the legislation as an emergency in order for it be effective prior to the first day of school and in order for the school district to advise parents of the change in drop-off and pick-up traffic patterns.

The ordinance Crusey proposed prohibited the following:

• Left hand turns between the hours of 7 to 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., when school is in session, for southbound traffic on Fourth Avenue at the traffic signal between Campbell Road and Fair Road. With the amount of traffic entering the school property from the south it is very difficult to make a left hand turn, thereby causing traffic to back up through the intersection at Campbell Road.

• Parking on the north side of Fair Road between the CSX railroad tracks and the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency on Fair Road.

• Right hand turns from Fair Road into Sidney Middle School between the hours of 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., when school is in session.

Currently vehicles parked on Fair Road at pick up-time could be considered to be waiting in traffic to turn into the middle school for pick up. If right hand turns into the middle school are prohibited then vehicle cannot be stopped on Fair Road waiting to turn into the middle school for pick up.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan, Council member Steve Wagner and Mayor Mike Barhorst expressed frustration that legislation was being considered as an emergency since discussions on this issue had been ongoing and the emergency language prohibited public objection to the legislation.

Council member Jenny VanMatre requested Crusey ask the school district to include information on the new “No Parking” rules in the neighborhood south of the school in the update to parents. She also asked if the “No Parking” signs had been erected. Crusey was uncertain if the sign had been put up yet, but assured he would make certain the signs were up before school starts.

After East North Street resident Amy Breinich asked why right turns were not prohibited in the morning as well, and a short discussion ensued, council began to vote on the proposed changes to the traffic map. However, when the vote came to Wagner, he indicated support for changing the proposal to include the morning prohibition of a right turn, as well as in the afternoon. The motion on the proposed traffic changes was then withdrawn and a new motion was made and passed to include the a.m. right turn prohibition.

In other business, City Manager Mark Cundiff led a discussion on city staff’s response to the South Walnut Avenue residents who voiced concerns with parking issues in their neighborhood at City Council’s Aug. 9 meeting. He said staff evaluated a number of different alternatives and after conducting research, identified three potential options.

Cundiff presented the following three options city staff felt were the best:

• Enacting an ordinance to prohibit vehicles with historical plates from parking on street;

• Advising residents in very specific detail about the existing ordinances, and be prepared to tow all the vehicles in violation of the legislation;

• Educate residents on the procedures to file civil action against parking violators.

Council members discussed the pros and cons of all the proposed alternatives and the enforcement of the existing laws dealing with inoperable vehicles. Members were concerned about the impact any new legislation would have on the entire community, not just the South Walnut Avenue neighborhood. In the end, the consensus was for city staff to move forward with preparing legislation to prohibit on-street parking for those vehicles with historic plates for further consideration at a future meeting.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.