Con: Students should be able to cross safely
Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 12, 2013 at 7:13 p.m.
Jan. 2 City Council meeting recap
• Voted in favor of moving forward with the closure: Will Armstrong, David Hagan, Paul Polasek, Joe Truman and Tom Halepaska
• Voted against the closure: Emett Alvarez and Josephine E. Soliz
• Council's vote marks the first step to finalize the exchange, City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said in a previous article. The next step is to bring the issue back as an ordinance to be read three times. A public hearing will also be held.
To read the resolution for the transfer of De Leon Street right of way to St. Joseph Schools Inc. in exchange for property along Red River Street, go to http://www.victoriatx.org/council/2013/01022013/2013-4R.pdf
Look both ways before you cross the street - kids start learning that lesson when they start walking.
Even pre-kindergarten students at Trinity Episcopal School can cross Southwest Moody Street, said Donald Breech, of Victoria.
So why are St. Joseph High School officials worried high school students can't make it safely across North De Leon Street, he wonders.
"There is hardly any traffic to worry about, and these kids are basically considered adults. Certainly, someone at this point in their life has taught them to look both ways," Breech said. "There are better things to worry about than closing a residential street."
Having grown up at North De Leon and North Liberty streets, Breech said closing the block would be an unnecessary inconvenience.
Councilman Emett Alvarez said he wants to look at more options before closing the block, especially since some residents have expressed displeasure.
"I am struck that these young adults can't cross the street without us having to go and close the whole street down. They are supposed to be getting ready to go to college, and I'm sure wherever they decide to go to college, those campuses aren't closing streets for them to walk across," Alvarez said.
He thinks guards, monitors, reduced speed limits, signage and other suggestions should be considered.
"I think we are all concerned about the safety of the students, but to me, closing the street is an extreme solution in addressing the safety of the students," Alvarez said.
Sam Poland, senior at St. Joseph High School, said of course high school students can cross the street. He believes closing the block would not make a difference.
Even though Councilman Joe Truman voted for the closure Jan. 2, he said he is still on the fence.
"I voted for getting this on our agenda and moving forward with the process and going through and trying to meet with the neighbors, the city, the school - everyone coming together and find a compromise that will work and make everyone happy," Truman said.
He said he has received numerous calls from concerned residents about the possible closure, and a petition with more than 70 signatures in favor of delaying the closure was presented at the Jan. 2 council meeting.
Truman said the city needs to do in-depth traffic flow studies to better understand the risk to students.
Victoria Development Services Director Jared Mayfield said traffic studies in 2011 showed that block of North De Leon Street has 1,000 cars using it during a weekday and between 300-600 during the weekend.
And if safety can be assured in other ways, Alvarez said the land exchange might not be a good deal for the city.
"I can't foresee us being able to use that additional strip of land in front of St. Joe for expanding Red River because clearly we would have to obtain right of away on the other side of the street, and that doesn't seem possible. ... And I am concerned that obtaining enough right of way from the railroad is not going to be easily obtainable," Alvarez said.
Dan Kelley, a resident of College Park, said the closure would be an annoyance for residents because the area already has multiple dead-end streets and turning onto Navarro Street without a light is difficult.
Kelley, who attended the Jan. 2 council meeting, said he also will go to the community meeting at St. Joseph next week because the residents should be more involved in the discussion.
"The safety part should be from everyone in the subdivision, and when school is in session, that means St. Joseph, too," Kelley said. "If closing De Leon makes it safer, close it down. ... I just don't know that it does."