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Park View students upset about changes to plans

by Stacey Colwell

 BRIDGEWATER - Many Park View Education Centre students are miffed that plans to address traffic-related safety concerns at this region's largest school have been put on the back burner.

 "We're really upset about it. We worked for three years on this project and now it just got taken away from us," said student council president Samantha Romkey.

 The council members were recently notified that plans to add new parking spots and to separate bus traffic from that of pedestrians and other vehicles were on hold.

 "All of us were really angry. We couldn't say anything. We were speechless."

 Last spring, MLA Carolyn Bolivar-Getson announced over $2 million worth of capital funding for the school, with the first priority being the various traffic concerns there during the 2009-10 budget year.

 "We decided we'd better deal with the parking lot issue because it was a safety issue," reiterated deputy minister of Education Dennis Cochrane in an interview following the announcement.

 However, the budget to add a new wing on the school came in higher than expected, so the board has decided to set aside the remaining $140,000 of capital funding to somehow address the traffic concerns at a later date and fully fund plans to start building the new wing this spring.

 "But that isn't what we were given the money for," said Ms Romkey.

 "It's pretty shocking. I couldn't believe this actually happened."

 She said adding on to the school should not take priority over safety concerns, especially because that's what the money was earmarked for.

 "Everyone, at the end of the day, is trying to beat the buses out of the parking lot … There are [vehicles] running into each other all the time - I've experienced it - and almost everyone I talk to has almost been run over walking up from the street … I've personally almost been hit twice by cars."

 Superintendent Nancy Pynch-Worthylake has previously said bus transportation is provided for Park View students and that adding parking space is not a high priority for the board.

 "We want students at Park View to know that their health and safety is our top priority, as it is with the board," said Department of Education spokesman Dan Harrison in a February 26 response to a media inquiry.

 "The board is discussing a solution to the parking and traffic issues. We are confident that the plan will be more than acceptable to the students."

 That plan involves building an access road from King Street on the south side of Park View to the community field behind the school.

 However, there is no estimated budget for the project, no timeline for work to begin and no official agreement with the town or the Lunenburg municipality, which owns the property in question.

posted on 03/02/10
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