The River Forest Traffic and Safety Commission, on Feb. 13, held off on approving street changes outside of Roosevelt Middle School, citing a lack of public knowledge on the plan and an understanding of its potential impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
Commissioners met with representatives from District 90 on Wednesday to consider two requests for changes to Oak Avenue outside of Roosevelt Middle School, at 7560 Oak Ave.
The first was for changing Oak Avenue to a permanent one-way street between Lathrop and Jackson avenues. The street currently operates as a two-way during non-school hours.
The second request called for the allowance of angled parking along the southern side of that stretch, where the school hopes to install between 30 and 37 marked spaces.
There are currently 24 unmarked spots running parallel on Oak, about half of which are available for faculty during school hours.
The proposed changes are part of a larger renovation plan at Roosevelt, which the district hopes to begin work on this summer. The project, estimated to cost up to $1.6 million, includes improvements to lighting, fencing, signage and cycling accommodations on the school's grounds, as well as re-purposing some vehicle parking areas on the west and north sides of the school.
That work would bring down the number of onsite parking spots at the campus, making the new spaces on Oak Avenue all the more essential to the school's future and its ultimate goal of student safety, District 90 Superintendent Edward Condon told the traffic commission.
"This configuration is really the only one … where a student walking to school or riding a bicycle can enter the building without ever having to cross a line of traffic, other than a corner that is monitored by a crossing guard," he said. "That would be the first time that this has happened."
Though generally receptive to the improvement plan, commissioners were hesitant to let the district start digging.
The commission's disquiet was partially due to the timing of the proposals, which —though approved internally by the school in June 2012 — are scheduled to receive a final village board decision in two weeks.
"This is being rushed," said resident Mark Coe, who lives near Roosevelt.
Other residents complained that Oak Avenue was too heavily traveled to be turned into a one-way street and that the community hadn't been properly notified about the proposals, despite the school having posted a message about the requests on its website.
"I'm just concerned that there hasn't been the proper process for a change like this," said Commissioner David Valenti.
Bill Grieve, the engineer who reviewed the district's traffic study for the village, suggested that Oak Avenue was the best location for new parking around the school, adding that any new spaces should be situated at 90 degrees, as opposed to the 45- and 60-degree configurations also considered by the district.
At the end of the nearly three-hour meeting, the commission unanimously denied the request for a one-way designation on Oak Avenue and gave no recommendation for the angled parking, in effect deferring that decision to the village board.
"We're going to talk to the board about tonight's meeting and see how they want to proceed," said Village Administrator Eric Palm. "It's hard to say what the process will be moving forward."
The board, which normally meets in full committee on the third Monday of every month, will convene on Tuesday, Feb. 19 because of Presidents Day.
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