A small group of Charlotte Central School students and their co-principal got a close-up look at the workings of town government when they attended the Oct. 22 Selectboard meeting.
The four students and administrator Jen Roth were given 20 minutes to outline their request for a safe pedestrian crossing from the school to Philo Ridge Farm. The farm store is growing in popularity as a meeting place for CCS middle school students, they said, noting that traffic congestion and the lack of a pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Mount Philo and Hinesburg roads—which the students have to cross to get from the school to the farm—create significant safety concerns.
On a recent Tuesday, about 25 students went to the site, Roth said, adding she frequently will help students who are headed to the complex cross the intersection.
The Selectboard supported the push to install a crosswalk but called for additional planning. Town Administrator Dean Bloch noted the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission should be contacted to see where the installation of a crosswalk would fit into its schedule. Bobby Harvey, who attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of the farm, expressed interest in discussing the proposal with town officials.
Prue Stephens, a Central School student, told the board she goes to the farm weekly with her friends on Tuesday. She is drawn to the site because of its great food, its safety and its beauty, she said. “It’s just fun to go there,” she said.
Fellow student Abbey Pitcavage echoed Stephens’ statement, pointing out that the atmosphere of the farm and the market is the perfect backdrop for socialization. Abbey’s father, Ed, is the farm manager.
The discussion kicked off with Selectboard Chairman Lane Morrison asking Roth what type of pedestrian passage she favored. Roth indicated she likes a painted crosswalk stretching from the school’s back parking lot, with two pedestrian crossing signs. Roth asked for help from the town to pinpoint the safest crossing spot and, once that was determined, the school would create the signs.
The board asked Roth about the need for the proposed crosswalk to meet the American with Disabilities Act. Harvey said the farm would support an ADA-compliant crosswalk.
Meanwhile, board member Carrie Spear suggested that students who planned to go to the farm after dismissal meet on the east side of the gym, wait 15 minutes until traffic at the school lessens and then cross the intersection. “You may have to go back to an old-fashion way for a bit,” said Spear, noting that this would be only a temporary solution until a permanent one is put into place. She noted that the proposal would also have to be approved by town road commissioner Jr Lewis.
No timeline was given at the meeting for the project to be completed.
In other news, long-time Selectboard minute taker Kathy Furr announced that she’s retiring at the end of December. The town has posted the position, with a Nov. 16 deadline for applications.