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East Greenville Looking to Control Traffic at 4th&5th Grade Center
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

          East Greenville Council is taking steps to control the chaos around the Upper Perkiomen 4th and 5th Grade Center, located at 510 Jefferson St. Last month, council informed school board members that it is prepared to eliminate all student drop-offs on Jefferson Street if morning traffic congestion does not dissipate.

            At Monday's public meeting, council members voted to spend $5,053 to purchase two new digital speed limit traffic signs with the intent of limiting the speed of traffic. Strategic implementation of the signs – similar to the blinking placards near the Upper Perkiomen Middle School on Montgomery Avenue – on Jefferson Avenue and 6th Street will not create a school zone or reduce the speed limit, according to Solicitor Michael E. Peters. Municipal officials will also implement advisory student crossing signs, according to Manager Jim Fry.

            Approval of the motion prevents the municipality from implementing a school zone at the building during the upcoming school year, according to Mayor Keith Gerhart. The district did not include its share of the cost to purchase two new school zone signs – which includes half of $41,000 – in its 2020-21 budget according to council President Angie Fegely.

"Purchasing the signs is good for the borough," member James Raftery said prior to the vote. "It does not mean a school zone could not be implemented in the future."

Lon Brinckman II cast the lone vote opposing the motion. In a text message delivered after the meeting, he expressed a preference for implementing a regulatory school zone. Brinckman also described the sign's related technology cloud fee – of $400 per sign per year – which kicks in during the second year as absurdly overpriced.

            The threat to ban all drop-offs on Jefferson Street could likely have a more significant impact. In June, the chair of the school board's Facilities Committee, Melanie Cunningham, announced that district officials will have 90 days to alleviate morning traffic issues in front of the school by opening the doors 20 minutes early.

            "We'll know if the situation is working within 90 days," Fegely said after the council meeting, held at Borough Hall.

            During the June 25 school board workshop meeting hosted on Zoom, Mike Elliot asked parents to comply with the rules as they drop off their children at the school.  "We need everyone on board with this," Elliot said.

            According to Cunningham, borough officials informed the school board they will ban all parent and bus drop-offs on Jefferson Street if the situation does not improve. Borough officials discussed the issue during a committee meeting in June, according to Elliot.  An approved ordinance could force the school to conduct all of its student drop-offs in the back of the school, according to Superintendent Allyn Roche.

            "It's not our recommendation," Roche said during the meeting. "It's what the (borough) told us they intend to do."

            Randy Morris, Chief of the Borough of East Greenville Police Department, will monitor the situation, according to Fry. Parents and school district officials will also have influence in the decision, but the municipality will have the final say, according to Member Joe Rock.

            "The borough holds all the cards," Gerhart said.

            According to Roche, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a high percentage of parents to decide to drive their children to school. He said an extraordinary amount of cars could create additional challenges.





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