Bus stop causes concern

Students wait for the school bus at a stop on the corner of Marion Crescent and Fifth Street West Oct. 21. Some residents are concerned about the students safety because they wait on the street and especially what they will do in the winter months.

By Mac Christie

A school bus stop on Fifth Street West is causing safety concerns among residents on the city’s south side.

The location of the stop, at the corner of Fifth Street and Marion Crescent, has raised concerns because students wait for the bus on the street where there’s no sidewalk.

The stop used to be on the other side of the street, adjacent to Lions Park, where there is a sidewalk. It was moved because parents were worried about young children crossing the street by themselves at uncontrolled crossings.

“I think it’s better where it is now, because young children don’t have to cross the street so much,” said mother and area resident Janelle Letkemann.

While the children were able to wait on the sidewalk at the previous stop, every child would have had to cross Fifth Street, because there are no homes on the west side, which is Lions Park.

Still, although it may be safer for children to not cross the street, some residents are concerned about how the children get to the bus stop.

“We have children coming from Stack (Crescent to the north) to get to Marion, so we’re either encouraging children to walk on 5th Street West,” said Carmen Howell, “or we’re encouraging them to cross the street to the sidewalk, get to Marion (Crescent) and cross again.”

Howell, who lives at the home where the children wait for the bus, said the intersection of Marion and Fifth streets is busy at 8:30 in the morning.

But while crossing the street might be an issue, Howell said she’s more concerned about what the children will do in the wintertime.

“When the weather is nice and the streets aren’t slippery, hopefully that’s fine,” she said. “But if we’re not fixing it now, it’s obviously just going to continue and it could be an issue throughout the winter.”

She’s also worried about what will happen in the winter, when the city plows the streets, preventing the students from waiting on her lawn.

“The city has always plowed to that corner in the winter,” she said. “If they put it there, those kids aren’t going to be standing in my yard, they’re going to be out in the street.”

Letkemann agreed with Howell, saying while she doesn’t have a problem with the stop now, when winter hits and children have to stand in the street as Howell suggests, she may.

Although Howell doesn’t have any children of her own that wait at the stop, she’s still concerned for those that do. But she understands the school division may have been in a no-win situation in regards to moving the stop.

Northwest School Division director Duane Hauk said the school board has had the concerns verbalized to them.

“We received a concern, we discussed it and made a decision to keep it status quo,” he said. “In this situation we feel (this) is the best we can do.”

He added the reason for changing the stop location originally was to prevent children from having to cross the street.

“There’s definitely consideration,” he said about residents’ concerns. “We try to look at things and if people aren’t happy and we hear about it, then we try to look at ways we can fix the situation.”

Hauk said the school division’s biggest concern is always student safety, and encouraged concerned residents to write a letter to the school division.

He wasn’t sure if the situation could change in the winter months.

“I wouldn’t want to say anything could change for sure,” he said, “but I would say things could be re-evaluated.”

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