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Parking issues continue at S.S. Palmer Elementary

Published November 23. 2011 05:01PM

Parking issues at an elementary school in Palmerton continue to abound.

Mayor Brad Doll explained to borough council on Tuesday that the problem still occurs at the S.S. Palmer Elementary building.

"The problem is the morning, where people are coming 15, 20, 30 minutes early," Doll said. "The afternoon is not much better."

Doll said school Principal Mary Brumbach suggested the borough yellow zone the entire street.

"Last year, we had a [similar] problem with [parking on] Lafayette [Avenue]," he said. "I'm thinking I'll write a stern memo again for people to follow the rules and not break traffic laws."

No such problems have been reported at neighboring Parkside Elementary, Doll noted.

Council President Terry Costenbader suggested the borough consider posting 3-minute or 5-minute parking.

While no official action was taken on the matter, Doll said the matter needs to be acted on swiftly.

"Adults should not be arguing with principals," he said. "We had a physical altercation where it [the situation] wound up at the police station."

Contacted this morning, police Chief Randy Smith told the TIMES NEWS a matter had come before the police department, but added nothing was officially reported.

Smith said he then referred the matter to the district superintendent.

Contacted this morning, Superintendent Carol Boyce told the TIMES NEWS she wasn't aware of any physical altercation that occurred.

"We have concerns with people who drop youngsters off and then park and stay in the area, which is a drop-off area," Boyce said. "The point of a drop-off area is to allow the youngster to get out of the car and enter the building immediately."

Boyce said "Third Street is a very difficult, heavily traveled street. We're concerned with the kids safety and adults safety."

"The curb has not been painted there, even though there are signs that are clear where you can park and where you cannot," she said. "It is a safety concern to us; we are absolutely obligated to pay attention to the safety of our kids, and whatever we can do to make that happen is what we need to do."

Boyce said it's imperative for the lines of communication to remain open.

"We have had a very good working relationship with the borough and police department to keep all of the citizens in the community safe, especially our little ones," she said. "The police department has been very responsive and willing to talk, so has the mayor, and we look forward to that ongoing relationship."

Contacted this morning, Brumbach said she also wasn't aware of any sort of physical altercation.

She did, however, state that there have been "difficulties enforcing the drop-off policy."

"It's been a huge problem; the street is posted drop-off and pick-up only," Brumbach said. "We used to have kids come in off Lafayette [Avenue], but it was a narrow street, and with the Catholic school, had too much congestion. I think it was an accident waiting to happen where I was concerned with the children being hurt."

As a result, Brumbach said the district met with the police department and busing company in August "and determined it would be better for everybody if we started having the children come in the front door, which eliminated people dropping off on Lafayette and use the front of the school as the drop-off."

"The problem is people disregard the posting, and there are people that come 20-25 minutes ahead of time," she said. "That's their prerogative; they just can't park directly in front of the school."

Brumbach said she has since made it a point to monitor the area.

"I patrol the sidewalk," she said. "The people are now used to me patrolling the sidewalk, and I flat out tell them not to park there."

Brumbach said "they're supposed to drive in, drop off and go."

"The majority of people are doing that, but that was not the case a month ago," she said. "People are upset with me, but it's posted no parking, drop-off only."

Brumbach said the doors open to the building at 8:15 a.m., at which point the students may enter.

"At the end of the day, people park there because they have to wait for the kids to come out," she said. "What's happening now is these same people are standing in the street so the people can't park there."

Brumbach said she has received "numerous responses from parents that it's working so much smoother than in the past."

"Third Street is a much wider street, there's more room for dropping off, and it's a safer environment, with the exception of parents that drop their children off in the middle of the street," she said. "We want the students to be safe."

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