By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PERU — Students walking to and from the Peru Central School District campus will have improved pedestrian access, thanks to a $235,000 grant from the federal Safe Routes to School Funds.
Representatives from the town, the School District, the Clinton County Health Department’s Healthy Schools NY Program and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office worked as a team to identify the need for better pedestrian access to the school in hopes that the grant application would be accepted.
“This funding will go to improve the crosswalk on (Route) 22B and to build sidewalks on campus to keep students from walking where cars and buses are driving,” said Adele Douglas, grant coordinator for the Town of Peru.
The crosswalk is located near Laflure Lane and connects to a subdivision on the far side of 22B to the school campus. The Safe Routes to Schools project will allow for the placement of flashing lights at the crosswalk as a safety measure along the busy thoroughfare.
“We’ve always had a collaborative effort from the Sheriff’s Office to help out at that crosswalk,” Douglas said.
Vehicles often travel above the speed limit along 22B during school hours, she said, and motorists sometimes do not stop for pedestrians waiting to enter the crosswalk.
“This should improve safety at that site.”
FEDERAL FUNDS CRUCIAL
Once students reach the school campus from the crosswalk, they immediately move onto a lawn, she added. The upcoming project will support construction of sidewalks from that point to sidewalks that currently exist on school property, completing the pedestrian route to the main buildings.
“One of the things we discussed (as a grant-application committee) was that Peru is not a walkable campus,” she said. “There are now no connections to the school’s sidewalk system. This project will correct that problem.”
Town of Peru Supervisor Peter Glushko praised the efforts of Douglas and the committee during a recent Town Council meeting.
“Anything we can do to make it safer for students is a plus,” he said. “With the current budget situation at schools and towns, being able to access federal funding is crucial to making these improvements a reality.”
GOOD WORK REWARDED
The town received a similar grant in 2008 to complete a sidewalk along School Street, another main thoroughfare leading to the campus. Prior to installation of a new walkway there, students had to walk along the street, which is narrow and heavily used before and after the school day.
“They (grant providers) try to reward you when you do a project well,” Glushko said of a 2010 project to complete the School Street sidewalk.
“We’re very pleased with the success of the initial project, and we believe this second project will continue to improve safety for our children and adults.”
The new project will also provide sidewalks on campus from School Street to the district’s existing sidewalks.
NO LOCAL COST
Both the 2008 and current grant projects include an education component in which physical-education classes work on bicycle safety and riding bikes and walking to promote active lifestyles.
The current project will also include placing bicycle racks at significant points across the school campus.
Douglas said she believes the sidewalk project will not actually begin until the summer of 2014, as required paperwork and permitting steps are completed.
The work is 100 percent federally funded and will not cost the town or school any extra funds. The Town of Peru currently maintains the School Street sidewalk, clearing it of snow when needed.
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