PLATTEVILLE — When students returned to Westview Elementary School after winter vacation Jan. 2, their parents saw a new traffic pattern into and out of the Westview parking lots.
The next step proposed to improve traffic flow near Westview was a proposal to ban parking on the north side of Camp Street from Kelly Avenue to Westenr Avenue on school days from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The proposal was at the request of Platteville Public Schools, which puts up cones on school days to stop drivers turning left from westbound Camp Street into the Westview lot, and to get drivers to turn only right when exiting the east parking lot.
“That is an awful area for a bus,” said at-large Ald. Barb Stockhausen, who was a school bus driver for five years. “I don’t know who gets in the way of those buses, but there’s very little respect for the buses in that parking lot. … You do have to make a left turn and then make a right turn to get out of that parking lot.”
But PPS superintendent Connie Valenza said Tuesday morning that the school district had withdrawn its request for the parking change, which she said doesn’t affect traffic flow in front of Westview.
“The response from parents related to the increase in safety for students has been very positive,” said Valenza. “We are able to get our parents and students through in a ten to fifteen minute window at most. The backup on the street is now only about six to seven minutes. We believe that the potential inconvenience is a small price to pay for the significant increase in student safety.”
Negative reaction to the parking proposal resulted in the Common Council’s deciding against voting on it at its next meeting Tuesday.
One neighbor and one person who takes children to and from Westview spoke in opposition at the Jan. 8 Common Council meeting.
“It is nothing but a cluster mess,” said Carol Beals, who said she takes grandchildren to Westview. “Removing parking on the north side of the street is not going to solve any problem whatsoever. They’re just going to continue to pull into a parking lot that now they think they can have directional traffic in. They can prohibit left-hand turns on Camp Street into the parking lot, which I’m not sure how they think that’s solving anything.”
Beals said banning left turns into the Westview lots has expanded traffic lines from in front of Westview down Camp Street to Western Avenue. “The traffic that wants to pass through is still sitting there, waiting and waiting and waiting,” she said. “Little kids are still getting out on the driver’s side [back] door, whether they’re in the parking lot, whether they’re on the street.
“This requires some thought about dismissal times at the school. It should not be a city council problem; it should be a School Board problem. They should not be dumping their business on you. You guys should be concerned about impeding traffic on Camp Street during those hours. … Traffic is at a standstill. God forbid if some little kid does get hit, there’s no way an ambulance or a rescue team can get there. It is bumper to bumper going nowhere in both directions.”
“There’s about a 20-minute time in the morning when it’s busy, and about a 20-minute time in the afternoon when it’s busy,” said Camp Street resident Louanna Domann. “That eliminates parking for any guests that we have all day.”
Domann also asked how the city would handle snow removal. Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot said people could still park on the north side of Camp Street, but would have to move their cars before 7:30 a.m.
District 1 Ald. Don Francis, who has a child at Westview, said the new traffic pattern “has not been a well-thought-out change. … It’s only the fifth day [Jan. 8] of it,” without UW–Platteville students in the area since they were on winter break.
Francis said parking lot traffic allows only one car to enter the lot per car leaving the lot. “It’s battle stations as far as trying to pick up a child,” he said.
District 3 Ald. Barb Daus said restricting parking all day may be excessive, and a shorter no-parking time “should be on the table as well. … That would at least help the residents of the area.”