Corl Street Elementary School parking changes target safety

Elementary school students are dropped off for school along the east side of Corl Street, which is a no-parking area. Leaders, citing safety concerns, are changing that.
Elementary school students are dropped off for school along the east side of Corl Street, which is a no-parking area. Leaders, citing safety concerns, are changing that. CDT photo

For years, parents of Corl Street Elementary School students faced a choice when dropping their children off.

They could either do it legally on the west side of the street — or more safely on the east.

Now, they don’t have to face that dilemma.

State College Borough Council recently approved a change in regulations that will soon allow parking on the east side in front of the school, making it easier for parents to bring their children and pick them up.

According to borough Manager Tom Fountaine, the State College Area School District requested the change because of potential dangers from the current conditions that allow parking only on the west side of the street.

“During peak times and the beginning and end of the school day,” Fountaine said during the council meeting, “vehicles do park on both sides of the street to pick up students. This is creating a safety concern.”

The problem, according to borough Parking Manager Charlie DeBow, is because parking is restricted to the west side, students are forced to cross the street to reach the school.

By changing the parking regulations, he said, students will be closer to the school when they exit from cars.

Councilman Evan Myers asked Monday if the issue will be resolved even with the change in regulations, saying “people will park on both sides because there’s not enough parking anyway.”

From an enforcement standpoint, DeBow said, he would feel much better upholding a regulation that does not create a safety concern.

“Right now,” he said, “people want to park on the ‘no parking’ side because they don’t want children crossing the street. If we move it to the correct side, from an enforcement standpoint, I wouldn’t feel bad about writing a ticket (to drivers on the west side) because we are now allowing them (to park) safely.”

Fountaine said the worry is less about finding a place to park than parking illegally so children don’t have to cross the street. The regulation change would provide a legal parking space that’s safer for students.

“If people violate the law and ignore that, we can deal with that,” he said. “Under the current situation, we’re encouraging illegal parking where people drop their kids off.”

Councilman Tom Daubert said the whole parking issue bothers him, noting a similar situation at Easterly Parkway Elementary School on Pugh Street. He voted against the motion, the lone dissenter.

“I get constant complaints about this,” he said. “People park there because these dear kids can’t walk two blocks anymore. No one ever gets a ticket, nothing ever happens to them.

“If people can’t allow their kids to walk to school, then they can walk them across the street if they need to.”

Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said she didn’t want to encourage kindergarteners and first-graders to run across the street, especially in bad weather when visibility is impaired.

“Almost all schools, because we’re in town, have a parking and pickup problem given that most kids today don’t walk or ride bikes without their parents,” she said. “We need to work on the way we design schools now. There’s going to be a large number of cars; we need a loop for people to work their way around.”

Street signs will be put in place through a coordinated effort between the parking administration and public works department, DeBow said Friday. He was unable to provide a date for the change.

He said the administration is also working with the school to notify parents of the switch.

School and district officials could not be reached for comment.