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Release of committee-issued Quaker Valley traffic report stirs debate

Background

The traffic safety advisory committee was formed in January following nearly a year of debate regarding the district’s purchase of two homes — and attempts to buy a third — near the high school in what Quaker Valley administrators and board members call an effort to increase student safety and alleviate a traffic problem.

School board members last year approved spending $400,000 to purchase two homes.

Initial plans called for the construction of a parking lot and off-street, student drop-off area.

However, school officials and property owners at 700 Beaver St. — which sits adjacent to the high school — have not been able to reach an agreement.

It is the last property remaining between the district’s high school and the two acquired properties.

Online

To view the initial committee report submitted to board members, click here.

To view a version of the committee report submitted by Tom Weber, click here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

While there's likely to be no immediate action following the release of a citizen advisory committee's report detailing ideas to improve student safety at Quaker Valley High School, some members say portions of the document should have been omitted.

Leet resident Tom Weber said long-term recommendations should not have been part of the document, claiming the report submitted to the school board supports the administration's attempts to purchase and demolish homes near the school.

“These final recommendations bear the mark of the administration's view and completely omit the most critical conclusion,” Weber said, adding that the purchase of two Beaver Street homes last year — and attempts to buy a third property — have nothing to do with traffic safety, but instead is a “convenience issue.”

Weber submitted what he called a “corrected” version of the committee's report, which was signed by him and three other committee members.

Members of the 18-person panel suggested a variety of options, including scaling back brush along an entrance to the high school campus on Beaver Street, to redesigning a hillside roadway to offer pedestrian and vehicle traffic access.

Many of the ideas shared were similar to those suggested in a $24,000 traffic study conducted by David E. Wooster and Associates and released last October.

Other ideas suggested by committee members included a parking garage and petitioning PennDOT for signage along Route 65.

Committee members achieved “unanimous or near-unanimous” agreement on short- and mid-term recommendations, according to the initial document presented to board members by committee spokesman Jason Richey.

The document says long-term recommendations “represent the majority of the committee.”

The initial document presented to the board suggests the acquisition of nearby properties if the current campus is to remain in Leetsdale.

Weber contends that through a “silent vote,” board members agreed that the purchase of nearby homes was about a “convenience parking issue,” not traffic safety.

Committee member Jerilyn Scott said she “vehemently” disagreed with Weber.

“It was by no means a unanimous conclusion of the committee that it was all about parking and not about safety,” she said.

School board President Jack Norris said “owning homes is not the same as tearing them down.”

But committee member Beth Carroll, who is a member of the grassroots Concerned Taxpayers of Quaker Valley, said long-term recommendations “were not given a full group discussion.”

“It was group consensus that we should not include anything relating to long-term recommendations … because we couldn't present anything of intelligence. We had no cost information. We had no timeline information. We knew it was contentious and we knew we'd never agree given the timeline we were given,” she said.

“The final findings come out, and they include the final recommendations as if the majority of people voted on things. We didn't vote on anything. We were asked to give information, but we never had discussion.”

School leaders said no opinions were omitted.

Some members of the group also suggested whether the school's current footprint along a hillside above Route 65 is a suitable location for the campus, Richey said.

“Is this where you want the high school for the next 50 years,” Richey asked board members.

He provided a personal, 10-page report on the school's location and suggested leaders should consider finding a 40- or 50-acre parcel in the district to consider a new campus.

Norris said board members and administrators will review the committee's findings before making recommendations.

No timetable was given as to when any recommendations could be implemented.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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