The Ennis School Board weighed its options for creating a sidewalk on the northern side of the school at Monday’s regular board meeting.
Becky Vujovich from Madison Byways, an organization dedicated to providing pathways for the Ennis community, presented the school board with a number of reasons the school district needs to create a safe walking route for students.
As of now, the north side of the Ennis Schools has no sidewalk and students are currently walking that way to school.
Vujovich said a sidewalk is necessary to protect the safety of the children, and Madison Byways earned a grant to do just that. The Madison Byways representative said the organization received a $5,000 grant for the construction of a sidewalk near the school, but the project must be completed by May of next year to receive the grant.
The school board was hesitant to jump on board with any construction plans right away. Several board members were worried the planned sidewalk would lead kids into a dangerous traffic intersection near Town Pump.
Madison Byways has helped design a sidewalk that will take students down the hill by the school and over in front of Town Pump by where the air pump is currently.
“I think it’s a bad idea to put a sidewalk in there that will dump kids into the worst area in town involving traffic,” said board chairperson John Scully.
Vujovich agreed the Town Pump area is a problem, but she pointed out a sidewalk would make things safer and would at least make drivers aware there may be pedestrians in the area.
There are several areas along the school grounds that need sidewalks to provide students with a safe way to get to school. The board agreed a sidewalk that runs in front of Town Pump probably isn’t the best option. Instead, the board came up with another option to have the sidewalk run behind Town Pump and come out near Shedhorn Sports.
Vujovich reiterated the project’s deadline to meet the grant. She said the school needed to make a decision in the next month to avoid running out of time to get the project completed before summer ends. She went on to say the project needed to be completed this summer or early fall since weather won’t permit the work to be done after that.
The school board also said they needed to consider how the new sidewalk would interface with new parking lot plans as well.
Vujovich said Madison Byways had already obtained quotes for the project. An asphalt pathway would cost $27,000. A concrete version would cost $37,000. The sidewalks would need to be ADA-compliant.
Town Pump will also need to fund their part of the sidewalk, which posed another concern for the school board.
“I don’t feel comfortable starting this project till Town Pump does their part,” said Scully.
Ultimately, a subcommittee of Maria Lake and Craig George was assigned to work with Vujovich and elementary principal Brian Hilton to work on project. Superintendent John Overstreet said the board would not necessarily have to meet to discuss the outcomes of the committee since he was authorized to release funds for the project if needed.