School Board approves Beachland Elementary’s new parent, bus loops

VERO BEACH — The Indian River County School Board Tuesday night unanimously approved a plan that will provide for better traffic flow and stacking on Beachland Elementary School’s campus, though the plan could result in more drivers cutting through Date Palm Road, which residents have objected to.

A few residents who live along Date Palm Road voiced their continued concerns that their neighborhood would be inundated with increased vehicular traffic given the final plan for the new parent pick-up and drop-off loop and new bus loop.

“That road is going to become very congested,” Stuart Kennedy told the School Board, referring to Date Palm.

He presented what he thought would be a viable alternative to the plan the architect and engineers came up with, having all traffic enter and exit the campus via Indian River Drive.

Architect John Binkley, of Edlund Dritenbas Binkley Architect Associates, told the School Board he reviewed Kennedy’s proposed plan.

“It’s a good idea,” Binkley said, “but it has its problems.”

He explained that Kennedy’s plan would have essentially created 2-way traffic needing a 4-way stop that would have impeded traffic flow. It also would have needed about 5 lanes of asphalt, more than what the proposed plan calls for.

“My concern is the residents,” said Liz Stanley. She pointed out that Date Palm is not a thoroughfare, but would become one with the plan were approved.

Fellow resident Lisa Bowles, who has lived on Date Palm for 20 years, agreed.

“It’s really going to be dangerous for residents,” she said. “To make that a thoroughfare is crazy, in my opinion.”

School Board Chair Jeff Pegler told the audience that he believed the proposed plan, which calls for two-laned stacking in the parent loop, was the best compromise of the two previous plans.

Prior plans called for routing the loop through the wooded area near the school or routing traffic through the neighborhood.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Fran Adams said the proposed plan saves the hammock and does not rely on the politics of the City of Vero Beach to address the traffic concerns regarding right of way.

Under the proposed plan, drivers can access the school by making a right-only turn into the campus off Mockingbird Drive or turning in off of Indian River Drive. More than 100 vehicles could be accommodated with the new parent loop.

“At some point, a decision has to be made,” School Board member Claudia Jimenez said. “Are we going to please everyone? No.”

She said that while she feels for the residents of Date Palm, not all parents will drive down that road to get to the school.

“You are going to have some traffic build up,” Jimenez said. “We have to look at the big picture. We heard you. We care” but this is the best option.

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