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.