Woodsdale Elementary School Parking Issue Tabled by Wheeling Traffic Commission

Photo by Joselyn King Wheeling Director of Operations Tim Birch, left, and Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball assess the parking situation at dismissal time at Woodsdale Elementary School during Thursday’s meeting of the Wheeling Traffic Commission.

WHEELING — Woodsdale Elementary School will get another month to tweak its temporary plan for the stacking of cars and student pick-up each day at dismissal time.

The Wheeling Traffic Commission on Tuesday tabled until its next meeting at 2 p.m. Oct. 10 four separate requests from the school pertaining to this plan, which has been in place since the start of classes last month.

The school is requesting a no parking zone on both sides of Poplar Street from Bethany Pike to the alley behind the school from 3-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and also seeks permission to close the section of Poplar Street to through traffic beginning at 3:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. on those days.

A third request from the school would prohibit left turns from Maple Street onto Bethany Pike between 3:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The school was also seeking permanent permission to use the alley congruent with the alley at the rear of the school from Poplar to Walnut streets for the stacking of cars. When the section of Poplar Street to Bethany Pike also closed, this had effectively boxed in residents of the Cobblestone Condoninium complex at 4 Poplar Ave.

Minch said following Thursday’s traffic commission meeting that, starting Monday, the school would no longer continue the practice of stacking three lines of traffic on the closed Poplar Street. Instead, it would completely leave open the first lane in front of the Cobblestone Condoniniums. She said the school also would no longer close off the alley on school days.

The decision came following discussions Wednesday between Minch and Wheeling emergency personnel.

“As far as our response goes, I think our needs have been satisfied,” Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms said. “The issue we discussed was leaving the lane open so we could get through. That was one of the issues discussed yesterday (Wednesday) and agreed upon.

“Is it optimal? Obviously not for the residents,” he said. ” But as far as the fire service is concerned, we think our needs (are being met.)”

But Wheeling Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball said he is opposed to giving any permanent permission for the closure of any street.

“It’s not my final decision, but I would be 100 percent opposed to obstructing any traffic,” he said. “If it were up to me, we would be taking enforcement action to open that street up.”

Attorney Ray Byrd addressed the board on behalf of the residents of the Cobblestone Condoniniums. He said many of the residents are concerned for the safety of the school children, but many of them are age 75 or older and safety is an issue for them, too. An ambulance could not easily access the building if the lanes around it were closed.

He said residents also had to arrange their lives around the school’s schedule, and some residents who get off at 3 p.m. were delaying their trip home to avoid the traffic.

Others couldn’t invite visitors in the afternoon as parking would not be available from 3-4 p.m., and deliveries and calls to repairmen were becoming an issue.

Jenny Shutler is the owner of a second apartment complex directly behind Woodsdale School, and she said her residents were being impacted and not able to get out when needed. The point was backed up by residents Dennis Albaugh and Rita Sage.

Wheeling Director of Operations Tim Birch suggested maybe a road closure would inconvenience less people if it were reversed and the stacking took place on Maple Street in front of the Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church. He said the one-way alley behind the school could be made two-way to accommodate this.

Members of the traffic commission advised Minch to work with neighbors over the coming month, and to continue to tweak the parking plan.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the commission granted a request by Mike Ferns, owner of River’s Edge Restaurant at 11th and Main streets, to remove the commercial loading zone directly in front of establishment and replace it with meters.

They also approved a request from the Good Shepherd Nursing Home for a stop sign to be placed at the intersection of Edgington Lane, Damian Road and Storch Avenue. They also approved a crosswalk to be painted across Edgington Lane to a parking lot to be built by the nursing home.

The commission, however, denied a request by Greg Myers to change a restricted parking zone at the corner of Market and 23rd streets to loading zone for commercial deliveries.

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