School takes action to ensure students’ safety

   Despite a lack of action from the Township Committee, the ongoing problem of traffic circulation in the Cranbury School parking lot appears to have been solved.
   Restrictions on when parents can enter the school lot to drop children off for school have been in place for two weeks and, so far, parents, school officials and the police are happy with the results.
   We are glad to see someone finally take the initiative to fix this long-time problem.
   The Township Committee and the district have been trying to solve the problem of traffic back ups on Main Street, a jam-packed parking lot and the safety of school children in the area unsuccessfully for about four years.
   A solution was originally supposed to have been implemented by the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year.
   A plan that called for construction of a new road from the lot, which is shared by Town Hall, to Park Place West and making Schoolhouse Lane a part-time, one-way exit had been discussed ad nauseam. The plan was endorsed by the school board, the township’s circulation consultant and a majority of the committee. However, because it would have required the committee to borrow money and therefore needed support from four members, opposition from committeemen Greg Overstreet and Tom Gambino shelved the plan. Both committeemen offered their own traffic plans.
   One bone of contention regarding the one-way-in plan was the view, a criticism we find absurd. The Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society balked at the proposal because turning Schoolhouse Lane into a one-way, exit-only road for some of the day would deprive drivers visiting the school or Town Hall of seeing the historic building.
   Another, more legitimate concern was expressed by the United Methodist Church, which abuts Schoolhouse Lane. Church officials said the one-way plan would make it difficult for church members to use the building’s side door during the week.
   Other plans have been floated, including a proposal to alter the location of crosswalks, but they were not seen as viable.
   The committee currently is awaiting a study by Brown and Kenner Urban Designs to assist in planning the recently acquired Wright Property, which is adjacent to the school. The firm is expected to evaluate traffic conditions on Main Street and the school lot and present a proposed solution.
   Now, after almost four years, the school board is taking the bull by the horns. Two weeks ago, Chief School Administrator Carol Malouf sent a letter to parents that quite plainly said that, because of safety issues, parents would only be allowed to drive into the school lot between 8 and 8:20 a.m. Buses and school faculty and staff vehicles are permitted into the lot between 8:20 and 8:35 a.m. The plan is enforced daily by a member of the Police Department.
   Parents seem to like the plan, as does Police Chief Harry Kleinkauf, who said there was an immediate decrease in traffic backing up on Main Street and in the parking lot. Some parents have said the lot was unsafe before and that the changes are a great improvement.
   While the plan is considered temporary, Mayor Michael Mayes said that because it has improved congestion and safety, the township may consider keeping the rules in place permanently, which is ironic considering that, even with Mayor Mayes’ support of other plans, the committee is a big part of the reason the school district had to act.
   And we’re glad to see that it finally did.