The green space in front of Cloverbank Elementary School is here to stay.
Frontier Central School Board members voted, 4-1, during a special meeting Tuesday night to construct a 34-vehicle parking lot on the west side of the building, solving a need for more parking space. In doing so, they also officially abandoned a controversial plan to place parking and a parent drop-off loop in front of Cloverbank that would have eliminated green space and cut down trees.
On June 3, board members approved a “kiss and drop” area and parking lot in front of the building, but the board reversed that decision last week.
The plan agreed to Tuesday is part of the $29.75 million capital project approved in 2011. However, the new parking lot on the west side of the school will cost an estimated $75,000 to $100,000 more than the previously approved $60,000 lot in front of the building, a Young and Wright Architectural representative said. The added costs will cover grading the softer, sloped land with fill materials, controlling water drainage and relocating or protecting utilities that are currently below.
The school district’s general fund will cover any extra cost.
The parking project was originally scheduled to begin next week but will be postponed to the beginning of the school year due to the need for more planning by engineers.
The plan adopted Tuesday will also ban parking along Cloverbank Road in front of the school. In addition, parents of students will no longer be able to park in the parking lot on the east side of the school between 8:15 and 9 a.m. during bus drop-off and from 2:45 p.m. until buses have departed at the end of the day.
Some parents attending Tuesday’s meeting said the current, shared bus and parent drop-off area in the main parking lot is a busy place on school-days.
But having a drop-off loop and parking in front of the building, close to their children, would have been a safety concern too, they said.
“We are concerned when we’re mixing pedestrians and buses and automobiles,” said Janet MacGregor Plarr, board president. “I’ve been here in the morning where it is an absolute nightmare. It is chaotic.”
Board member Patrick Boyle said, “The problem is we do have a lot of parents dropping off and picking up. That’s parents’ prerogative.”
Ultimately, the community’s outcry over saving the green space in front of the school couldn’t be ignored.
“It’s an abomination to take the trees down,” said Don Wiess, a Cloverbank Road resident. “You’re going to increase the heat factor for the students. ... I watch the students here sitting in the shade learning.”
Amy Walker has three children who attend the school.
“I haven’t experienced seeing the safety issues,” she said. “But I have experienced seeing them have fun and play. ... They’re so excited to play tag around those trees with their friends. ... That green space is priceless in the hearts of our children.”