Garfield stop sign request moves forward, slowly

Council refers proposal to Traffic & Safety Commission for a hearing

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing reporter

Efforts to address traffic congestion around Garfield School, 543 Hannah Ave., are officially in the hands of the Forest Park Traffic & Safety Commission.

At Monday's meeting, the village council agreed with Mayor Anthony Calderone's recommendation that the matter be referred to the Traffic & Safety Commission to be discussed at the commission's Dec. 21 meeting. However, Calderone cautioned the commission might have difficulty achieving a quorum for the meeting due to its proximity to the holidays.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Julianne Bonwit, a Forest Park resident and parent of a Garfield student, presented a petition signed by over 80 people requesting that a stop sign be placed at the intersection of Hannah and Jackson Boulevard. Her efforts began in September when she brought the matter to the attention of school District 91's Citizens Advisory Council parent interest group, but a series of twists and turns ensued as she attempted to make her request heard by the school district and village officials.

Calderone apologized to Bonwit at the meeting for any part the village had in complications she faced but noted participation by D91 will be required in resolving the issue.

"The school district has to be part of the solution," he said.

Commissioner Dan Novak agreed.

"We need the two governing bodies to work together," he said.

Commissioner Joe Byrnes said he had forwarded four suggestions for reducing the traffic congestion, including relocating a crossing guard and temporarily assigning a uniformed police officer to the intersection.

Novak, however, argued that reinstating the use of temporary pedestrian crosswalk signs at the intersection would be a better solution.

He believes the signs were purchased by the school district, perhaps in 2013 when Hannah was designated as a one-way street during school hours. The two signs were placed on Jackson when the temporary one-way sign was placed on Hannah before school started in the morning and all three were removed after school ended in the afternoon.

Novak, who said he lives across the street from the school, said the signs were effective but does not know when or why school officials stopped using them.

"How can we reinstitute what we did before?" he asked.

Novak said he has spoken to a school district representative but was not aware of any official response.

Bonwit said she was pleased that Byrnes and Novak brought suggestions to the meeting but was disappointed that the only action was referring the matter to the Traffic & Safety Commission, especially since this is not a new issue.

"It felt like Commissioner Byrnes and Commissioner Novak wanted something to happen," she said. "It was disappointing nothing further happened."

Bonwit hopes village officials can work with the school district to find a solution, just as they did with businesses on Madison Street and the Park District of Forest Park in addressing traffic safety issues.

Reader Comments

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Pam Fontana  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 9:28 AM

Not sure why, if it so necessary, it isn't already installed. After all, didn't the mayor get speed bumps in his alley with little or no discussion anywhere? Just saying. Personally though, not sure why we need another stop sign.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 4:10 PM

"The school district has to be part of the solution"? Since when? The village can certainly give D91 the courtesy of asking them to be "part of the solution," but legally it needs no approval to install a stop sign there.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 2nd, 2017 1:35 PM

Jerry Webster, not everyone uses distraction like Trump does. This seems to be a problem of no one taking responsibility and the parent's are concerned about the safety of their children. Mr. Novak, said the signs were effective. If some thing did happen and none of us want that, how many groups would be blaming each other for not doing anything. It would be the same mess that it is now in being able to get a sign on the street. One person in politics can get this done quickly with one phone call. Forest Park, was known as a town that could get things done.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 9:25 PM

I must have missed something in the years I have lived here, I don't remember anyone ever getting hurt at Garfield by a car. I not saying it never happened but one would think that it might have appeared in the news. What I have noticed is nobody is talking about paid parking on Madison anymore. I not saying a non existent problem was created to distract people but one has to wonder. Maybe Tommy can get the news media to look into this.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 6:29 PM

Rachelle Ernst, it seems that there is a run around going on. If you want every television station's phone number to let them know, send a reply in this column and I will send them. There is certainly something going on if this simple problem with a simple solution can not be resolved

John S. Bishof III  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 3:12 PM

I also wonder why someone from Garfield doesn't stand outside and monitor the situation since it is such a serious safety issue. I know at Betsy Ross the principal and other teachers are outside directing traffic during pick up and drop off. It is similar at Field Stevenson/FPMS. Parents are only asking for signs, maybe we should be asking for more...

Rachelle Ernst from Forest park   

Posted: November 30th, 2017 2:52 PM

The issue was brought to the attention of the school through a CAC meeting. Julianne Bonwit was then directed to take it to the village for consideration. I fail to understand why something as simple as protecting students crossing the street to go to school requires four separate meetings and different commissions to weigh in before and decision still hasn't been made. The school should be championing this project as an example of parental involvement. Being a parent of a former preschool student at Garfield, I have never seen administration from Garfield outside to monitor the situation that has been brought to their attention.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 28th, 2017 5:22 PM

You go to the school principal and you ask where are the signs that use to be out during school hours and find them and if you can't have some more made and put them up. You don't need to make this a big deal like another town would

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