Citizens in Mount Joy Township and Elizabethtown Borough are concerned that the Elizabethtown Area School District school board and administration are rushing to develop the Bear Creek property into an intermediate 4th through 6th grade school. The process for developing this proposed school location does not adequately take into consideration the rural characteristics of the roads and intersections, and regional traffic that will be greatly affected by this large district-wide school. The following information details potential problems with existing roads and intersections, and the potential high cost and complexities of making improvements to handle the traffic that will surely be generated by buses, faculty, staff, service contractors, and parent drop-offs.
Without recognizing these problems and developing a plan for remediation, the school will inevitably be constructed, and the problems will accumulate and will need to be resolved after the fact. If Mount Joy Township, Elizabethtown Borough, and the school district do not recognize the potential for these problems, then the cost and traffic aggravation will ultimately be passed along to the citizens of Mount Joy Township and Elizabethtown Borough. There is a need for regional planning for such a large inter-municipality project. As a minimum, this fast paced process must be paused so there is time to study the regional implications and make the correct regional decisions. Money may have been spent to develop the site plan to this point, but continuing this potentially flawed process can be more costly than starting over in the right direction.
Questions that need to be considered and answered include:
-The proposal calls for 100% of the traffic access to the school to be via Sheaffer Road. If the Bear Creek tract must be used, why is the school not connected to High Street to allow the natural flow of school traffic to this site?
-Why is the borough not included in the traffic impact studies and car counts? Who decided which intersections and level of study would be conducted? Let’s get this process right, so that the correct answers are found.
-Why is the school not located among the other existing main school campus buildings to share in existing amenities? These items include:
—Ability of students to walk to school (students now walking Grades 3-6 will now need to be bused)
—Middle school student utilization of the sports facilities without the need to be bused.
—Shared school zone and police monitoring of traffic
—Sharing of bus resources for extra curricular activities.
–Who is paying for the engineering and reconstruction of the problem roads and intersections? The potential problems are listed below.
-What is the scale and scope of sidewalk construction that will be needed in a 1 mile walking radius of the school? Is it safe not to put sidewalks on these roads, and risk students walking along roads that do not have shoulders? Who pays for sidewalks: the school district, Mount Joy Township, home owners?
The concerned citizens are not against the plan to construct a new intermediate school. The plan needs to be carefully reviewed and evaluated for cost and complexity before approval is given to begin construction as the plan currently exists. Alternative school locations or High Street access to the school needs to be studied, and may in fact be less costly and have less of a traffic and cost impact on the School District, Borough and Mount Joy Township.