Residents tired of ECC traffic speak out in plan & zoning meeting

Maplewood Planning and Zoning on Monday considered a request by Maplewood Richmond Heights School District to rezone a residence near the ECC (2812 Laclede Station Road) from Single Family to Public Activity, to use as a before- and after-school care facility.

About a dozen residents showed up, some to oppose the rezoning, citing ongoing traffic problems on the small streets around the entrance to the ECC; and a fewer number who supported the program, in spite of the traffic issues.

See also: Maplewood officials advance rezoning for house’s use as MRH after-school care

The residents’ comments and the committee’s responses took up the first hour of the meeting.

Tommas Ledbetter, who lives near the entrance to the ECC, on Burgess Avenue, said she’s recorded 65 cars in 20 minutes, and 200 in a day going down the street. She said parents don’t use the new parking lot (constructed since the passage of Prop K) because they don’t want to get caught in the crush, and parking on Burgess gets them closer to the entrance.

See also: Burgess is closed: parents disregard rules as they drop off kids, Burgess Avenue residents complain about parking: city manager proposes restrictions

Rumi Price, at 2824 Laclede Station Road, said traffic has gotten worse and worse over 10 years. “I didn’t buy that property to get congested streets,” she said. “The residents’ safety needs to be considered.” She said she feared that the school district is taking over the neighborhood one property at a time.

One parent who came to support the rezoning said her son has learned to play chess in the Discover Club, and that he becoming a better person because of the program.

Another said her daughters have flourished in the ECC. She said she missed signing up for the program by one minute, and one of her daughters sobbed. Chris Hoelzer, with MRH, said 25 were wait-listed.

Several times during the session members of the plan and zoning committee said traffic and parking issues on Burgess and Comfort avenues and Laclede Station Road are part of a larger issue, beyond rezoning one property, and beyond the scope of the committee. Commenters were advised to take the issues to school board meetings.

“We got sucked into the larger picture,” Chairman Dan Noonan said just before the vote.

The committee voted 5-1 to recommend rezoning to the city council. Mike Hummert was the single ‘no’ vote.

2812 Laclede Station Road, at the corner of Burgess Avenue, is under consideration for rezoning, to be used by MRH for its Discover Club after-school care program.

Burgess Avenue, which takes heavy ECC traffic during pick-up and drop-off times, is only 20 feet wide. It’s currently being repaved.

17 thoughts on “Residents tired of ECC traffic speak out in plan & zoning meeting

  1. This is typical of what is happening all over the metro area – streets in front of grade schools are choked shut by parents dropping off kids. The school districts need to enforce some rules that riding the bus or walking is mandatory unless their is a special situation. A good portion of school tax dollars are spent on providing bus services and it should not go unused. This was not a problem 10-20 years ago but has evolved from social media fueled paranoia of child abduction and the rise in helicopter parenting…

    • All over the metro area, kids are going to school! It’s a nightmare!
      I got an idea, why don’t you walk to the Metrolink? Then you won’t be stuck in traffic. You want to force kids to use the bus. How would you like that? If my kid misses the bus, you think he just doesn’t get to go to school that day? All the kids who go to pre K can’t take the bus anyway, they’re too young. What a stupid idea.

  2. Whoa, millennials that care only about what’s in it for them without regard for people that may have been living there for 40 years???
    Mind. Blown.

    • What a ridiculous comment. Someone who’s opposed to affordable after care for toddlers, and is mad at parents for dropping their kids off at school is gonna accuse those parents of only caring about themselves. What is your solution, other than forcing kids to take a bus, which is obviously totally unworkable and controlling? Should we just close the school so you never have to sit in traffic for 2 minutes?

      • Not one bit of “how can we, as parents, be less intrusive of long time residents?”. All gimme gimme gimme.

        • “Hey everybody, Todd hates us, and hates our whole generation! How could we make him happier?” Literally all I’m doing is taking my kid to school and there’s some baby boomer whining about “gimmie gimmie gimmie”

          • Literally I’m literally doing what o literally want without literal regard to anyone else. All me me me. Literally. Actually. Amazing.

            • Just to be clear, you are angry at parents for taking their kids to school. You don’t like it when ppl call you out on BS, which is why your posts get more and more childish. You just sound like just a spoiled baby.

  3. Two things: (1) People who buy a house across the street from a school and then complain about traffic twice a day should have thought twice about the traffic before buying their house. (2) The ECC could think about ending car pick-up and drop-off for K-2 or establishing hardship guidelines for special cases. We have school buses, and not nearly enough kids are riding them.

  4. As a parent who drops his child off daily and waits inside with him until the bell rings, I can tell you that in regards to the morning, The lot is full before 8 am. My son and I arrive at 7:45 to ensure we get a spot. So saying parents don’t use the lot is misleading if they are only talking about pick up.

  5. I was at this P&Z meeting and would like to address two inaccuracies contained in this article (though I appreciate 40 South’s coverage of this important issue!).

    1) The number of of members of the public spoke who spoke in support of, and against, the proposed rezoning was equal (4 in each group).

    2) Those citizens who spoke for the rezoning, including myself, were not supportive “in spite of traffic issues”- I don’t think any of us believe traffic issues would be exacerbated by rezoning. If anything, staggering the dismissal times of 20 additional children during aftercare hours, as opposed to having more kids needing to be picked up at 3:15, should alleviate traffic if it has any impact at all.

    I would add that affordable and accessible aftercare is vital to working families in our community, and there is not enough capacity at the ECC to meet the current need, as evidenced by this year’s long waitlist, weeping children, and scrambling parents.

    But say you’re not a working family. Why should you care?

    If nothing else, research clearly indicates participation in aftercare makes a positive difference in children’s educational and socio-emotional outcomes (e.g., Today’s ECC students will quickly become your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and fellow MRH taxpayers. What kind of fellow citizens do you want?

    • I wholeheartedly agree with Anne’s post. I’m glad to know that the majority of the P and Z committee voted to recommend rezoning to the city council.

    • You should have came to the following city council meeting. There you would have heard Councilman Ray Crader from ward 2 making the argument the program has a “learning component” and not just a day care. Ray went on to explain he has two kids enrolled in the Discovery Program and does not even need it, as his wife is a stay at home mother. Ray Crader also said he knew many other parents who use the program the same as he and his wife do. Not for the need but for the additional care or “learning component” it provides.
      Your absolutely right Anne, affordable and accessible aftercare is vital for our working families in our community. Maybe Ray and all these folks he knows using it as a cheap alternative to daycare or as a luxury could free up some spots for the 25 struggling working families that were wait listed and sent rejection letters. My opinion, people like this abuse the system. Also at this city council meeting, School board member Nikylan Knapper told a heartbreaking story to the city council about a single mother who had to send her children out of state to live with relatives because she could not secure space in the Discovery Program. Could Ray and these many other parents he speaks of, who do not even need the program, free up some space for these poor folks? Lord Almighty!

      Also, there are three other options within 5 blocks of the school with affordable aftercare. Many people use them and they have some space available.

      • Point of accuracy: What are these three other options? Because I looked HARD for safe, accessible aftercare when my son was waitlisted for DC. The only aftercare option that busses kids from the ECC (obviously necessary- if you need aftercare because you’re working, you’re certainly not going to be able to leave work to pick up your kids and take them to aftercare) is the Salvation Army. They have only 16 spots and do not take kids under 6, which cuts out Kindergarten, where most of the need is. And as of the time I contacted them, they had no program director or returning childcare staff, because all previous staff had left. They did not know their student/adult ratio, and are in fact not required to maintain licensing standards because they are a religious institution. That may not meet many people’s criteria for safe and quality care for their children.

        • Anne, without spending a ton of time to research your info, I trust in it’s accuracy and believe you have made a great point. Further supports my argument involving councilman Ray Crader and the many people he claimed he knew, who use the Discovery Club not as a need but a desire or extra learning component as I mentioned above. I see that as one solution to reduce the number of enrolled children. “Drain the fat” so to speak. Ensure the need exist before allowing the child into the program ( If that is even legal of-course)
          In terms of the buses, my understanding is we are not required to have this service in the district but we choose to provide it (pay for it). Which I fully support. However, it would seem we would have some say in the service they provide and seems reasonable that the school could influence them to make other stops to help meet the aftercare need.
          As to meeting peoples criteria, this is a personal decision adults will have to make. Will vary different from person to person. The Salvation Army is a champion in their work and I would say their reputation speaks for itself. I personally have worked with their organization on a multitude of projects in the past and was always amazed in their ability to maintain structure, their professionalism and accomplishments. I would suggest talking with other parents who’s children attend and possibly take a tour if they allow, to make informed decision. Not the place for a joke but….This is not the Catholic church we are talking about here….
          The district is not responsible for providing aftercare for all, or at all. It is simply a great mission of theirs and I support that if it is reasonably possible.
          I believe there are many other options to still be explored. Jumping to re-zone a residential property at the total disapproval of the entire neighborhood says this: The parents responsibility to provide safe quality care that meets their “criteria” for their child, after school is out, is MORE important than the consequences to someone else’s neighborhood. I guess it depends on your position in that statement.
          I am in total support of the school building or buying a piece of commercial property, staffing it and providing transportation to and from if necessary. Just one solution and depending on the size could support growth for a much longer period of time. To where the potential of the home considered has already been exceeded with current need.