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Roosevelt turns parking into pick up/drop off zone

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Parents dropping off or picking up their children at Roosevelt Elementary School on Tuesday may have noticed something a little different. Make that a lot different.

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This is the first year that a new pick up/drop off policy for students has been implemented at the school, and while Principal Jerry Hanson said there were a few hiccups with the arrangement on the first day, by and large, "things actually flowed pretty well this morning."

Parents agreed.

"I picked up my son after school, and it (traffic) did seem to move pretty smoothly," said Lisa Eischens, who has a son in fifth grade at Roosevelt and a daughter in seventh grade at Detroit Lakes Middle School (as well as a preschooler at home).

"We used (the drop off zone) early this morning, around 7:40 a.m.," said Karen Halver, who also has a son in fifth grade at Roosevelt. "I'm not sure where the people are parking that used to park there, but there were open parking spots, the drive through lane was open and the lane where you drop kids off was open, so it was wonderful.

"Not being allowed to turn left out of that parking lot helps also," she added.

"We still need more parking up there though."

Ben Weekley, supervisor of operations for the DL school district, said there are plans underway to possibly develop some of the area west of the current parking lot into additional paved parking if the new arrangement continues to draw positive reactions from the parents and students.

"We've had pretty positive comments from the parents so far," he said. "They're happy to see the change."

So how does it all work? Well, it's pretty simple -- sort of. The near side of the lot, closest to the school playground, has been designated as a pick up/drop off zone, with no parking permitted. The side of the lot opposite to the school has designated parking, while the middle lane is a "drive-through" zone, with vehicles allowed to drive through, but in one direction only. Parents are asked to enter the lot at the west side, then drive through to the east side to exit. No left turns are permitted at the exit.

The new policy was implemented this year to address parent concerns about safety in the parking lot both before and after school.

"The parking lot would be full of people trying to park or drive through (from either direction), and kids were running out between parked cars into the driving lane," Halver explained.

"There were vehicles pulled in and backing out or pulling in behind vehicles and stopping, so the kids were having to weave in between cars at times just to get to their parents," Eischens added. "It was just a very dangerous situation."

Both Eischens and Halver are members of the Roosevelt Parent Teacher Organization, which has been working with the district to improve the safety situation in the north parking lot for several years.

Halver said the parents' initial concern was with the adjacent playground, and children possibly chasing balls out into the parking lot; a fence was added to address that concern.

"It's been the goal of our PTO for a couple of years to do something about safety in the north parking lot before and after school," Hanson added.

"We typically have over 100 cars picking up kids after school (and dropping them off in the morning) ... it was a traffic nightmare, and a safety hazard."

So the facilities committee, which at that time included Weekley's predecessor, Brad Green, and business manager Ted Heisserer, was brought in to take a look at the problem.

"They (Green, Heisserer and Weekley) all worked together to make it happen," Hanson said.

And while neither Halver nor Eischens were involved in the planning for the new policy, they were both pleased that the administration had responded to parents' concerns.

"We've all tried to brainstorm through the years about what could be done, and asked the administration if they could change it," Eischens said. "I think it's going to be a few weeks before we really see how effective it is, but I'm really happy that they're trying something new to make (traffic) run more smoothly and make it safer."

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