Safe schools hearings set

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Upcoming public hearings for South Point and Chesapeake will bring those two villages closer to receiving funding from the Safe Routes to School Program.

The national initiative that is coordinated by states has as its goal promoting walking and bicycling for children by making their school environment safer and more accessible to those activities.

Both villages are working on school travel plans required before they can receive funding. There will be a public meeting Wednesday to hear comments from village residents on what they want for the draft plan.

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The Chesapeake meeting will start at noon at the village hall, 310 Third St.

At 2 p.m., South Point will hold its public meeting, at the village hall, 408 Second St. West.

South Point officials will direct their part of the funding to improvements at the new elementary school, built near the old high school.

Right now, officials don’t know how much the village can get from the program.

“We want to get all we can,” Mayor Bill Gaskins said. “We get a chance to get lights and sidewalks, crosswalk lights, speed zone and lights and sidewalks all around the school. It will help if the kids want to walk to school, getting them to ride their bikes, getting a little exercise. Everything we get is a plus.”

After government entities, whether cities or villages, finalize their school plans, they then submit them to the state.

After the plans are approved, the villages or cities can apply for funding.

They are eligible for up to $250,000 for an infrastructure project for each funding cycle and $50,000 for non-infrastructure plans such as education or encouragement projects, according to Julie Walcoff, Safe Routes to School coordinator for Ohio.

“We will review the plans and their suggestions,” Walcoff said. “If we don’t agree, we ask them to revise them.”

After plan approval comes funding approval, which can take a couple of months, she said.

“It can take up to a few years to start building a project,” she said.