Board talks revamped plan for Monteith pick-up process

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 2, 2013

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — After the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education said they weren’t interested in pursuing the previously proposed construction plans for a curb cut or driveway drop-off for Monteith, district officials met with

Grosse Pointe Woods administrators to come up with some new options.
The new proposals, presented to the board during the items for discussion at the June 24 meeting, seemed to garner a little more possible board support.

Board Treasurer Judy Gafa said she especially liked that one area that she had mentioned as a concern during the previous discussion would be addressed with the new proposal.

“I like the plan where you pulled it off of Cook Road, and you reconfigured the parking lot,” Gafa said.

She had previously expressed concerns that she wanted the parking for drop-off and pick-up taken off Cook. 

At a board meeting several weeks ago, the board chose to reject bids for two proposals that the administration felt would help alleviate the extent of the traffic problems.

Monteith Elementary has some major congestion issues during drop-off and especially pick-up in the afternoon, and the district has been struggling to find solutions to the congestion for many years.

Grosse Pointe Woods city officials want something done, as well.

At the previous meeting, board members weren’t sure if an expensive construction project was the answer, or if there were some better options to alleviate the problem.

The curb-cut option would have cost about $285,000, and the driveway drop-off was estimated at $180,000.

The new proposals include a west side drop-off for kindergarten students and a change to the parking lot so that parents enter on one side, drop children off or pick them up and then exit on the other side.

The parking lot changes would include installation of a sidewalk surrounding the parking lot, where students could be dropped off. It would cost about $250,000. The other piece of the proposal was that they could change the kindergarten drop-off to the western entrance to further alleviate traffic flow issues in the redesigned parking lot. The cost of making that change would be $180,000

“What it allows us to do is have, in essence, almost a complete circle,” Deputy Superintendent Christian Fenton said of the possible reconfiguration of the parking lot. “It is very similar, a little larger, to Mason’s.”

“I’m just bringing this to you as an update; nothing has changed since the last time we talked,” Fenton said, adding that the “city of Grosse Pointe Woods is not volunteering to contribute to this project in any way,” which was one issue raised during the previous discussion.

Several board members had questions about the new possibilities.

Board Secretary Lois Valente and Gafa said they went out to the site together the day before the meeting and spent about an hour visualizing the new possibilities that were being brought forward. Board members had also visited the school to see the drop-off and pick-up during the school year.

This won’t be an issue of getting this process fixed by the start of the school year. Any construction possibilities would need a bidding process so “it would be very tight,” Fenton said. 

“We’re not going to get this constructed this summer,” Fenton said of completing the entire project with the timeline they would have now.

Before moving forward with any possible change, a few board members expressed their desire to see the Monteith community engaged in the process so they can give their input into what takes place there.

A suggestion of a town hall-style meeting was raised. The board members said they want to see everyone bringing their ideas so the table.

“I’m looking for a solution and I want the solution to be comprehensive,” Valente said. “To ask me to spend a half a million dollars on concrete is tough for me.”