Schoolchildren at risk on Kiwanis Street

Published 6:38 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

AHOSKIE – A busy street plus schoolchildren equals a tragedy waiting to happen.

That concern was presented by Rev. Phillip Tipton of Ahoskie Free Will Baptist Church here Tuesday morning where he addressed the Ahoskie Town Council during their monthly meeting.

Speaking during the public input portion of the meeting, Rev. Tipton pointed out that due to the growth of the school (Ahoskie Christian School) operated by the church, traffic congestion was becoming problematic on Kiwanis Street.

“We’ve have some close encounters between our schoolchildren and vehicles,” Rev. Tipton said. “We do not want anyone to get hurt.”

The pastor added that the brunt of the congestion was during the weekday morning drop-off (7-8:30 a.m.) and afternoon pick-up (2:30-4 p.m.) hours. The church also operates a day care center at the same location.

Adding to the safety concerns is the recent opening of the church’s Family Life Center across the street. That facility is also used by students.

To alleviate the problem, Rev. Tipton said he and church/school officials had attempted to convince parents or family members dropping off or picking up youngsters to treat Kiwanis as a one-way street (which it is not).

“We’ve attempted to alter and monitor the flow of traffic in front of the school, but our enforcement powers are limited as it is a public street,” Rev. Tipton said. “We’ve even tried traffic cones, all to no avail.”

With that, the pastor asked the town to step in and help. He suggested to Ahoskie officials to make Kiwanis a one-way street during the aforementioned hours on weekdays.

In response, Councilman Ronald Gatling said he had observed the traffic congestion first-hand at the school and suggested the installation of speed bumps. Town Manager Tony Hammond came up with another idea…limit parking on just one side of Kiwanis Street within the block that the school is located.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said he had also observed the traffic patterns at the school, adding that placing time constraints on a one-way street would be confusing.

“Limiting parking on one side of the street may be the best bet here,” Fitzhugh said.

Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn reminded Rev. Tipton that council does not make decisions during public input periods. However, she did promise that Hammond and Fitzhugh would discuss this matter with church/school officials and devise a plan that will work.

In another street issue, council members did take action on a public appeal for help from their September meeting.

One month ago, Vicki Cagle of Cagle Chiropractic (403 West Main Street) voiced her concern about a lack of parking near her business. She told council members that the parking spots were filled all day long and that her patients, usually in a great deal of pain, were forced to walk a great distance to reach her office.

Cagle suggested the three parking spaces directly in front of her clinic on Main Street and two at the side on West Street (directly in front of the clinic’s handicapped entrance) become two-hour parking.

Ahoskie Council members agreed to that proposal during Tuesday’s meeting. They voted unanimously to amend a town ordinance to read as follows:

“South side of West Main Street between Carolina Ave. and West Street and on the west side of West Street between West Main Street and West Church Street shall be designated as 2 hour parking between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.”