WUFT News

Gainesville Preschool Students’ Parents Concerned About Speeding Near School

By on December 3rd, 2013

A Gainesville preschool’s administrators want parents and city police to help stop motorists allegedly speeding in front of their school.

The administrators and some parents worry children attending the school will get hurt, but local officials say not much can be done.

The drop-off area for students of First Presbyterian Preschool, 106 SW Third St., shares a road with a parking garage exit from The Continuum, a graduate and professional student-housing complex.

Around 70 to 80 children were loaded and unloaded each day without concern before the garage was completed about a year ago, preschool director Lisa Hershkowitz said.

“I see people speeding, texting or looking on their phones while they’re driving by the preschool,” Hershkowitz said. “It just takes one person hitting and killing a child.”

Parents and school administrators have recently seen close calls but are unsure how to improve the situation, she said. She wants parents to write letters to the city voicing complaints.

The preschool shared its concerns when the building was in development, city assistant public works director Phil Mann said.

A traffic study done after the garage was built showed barely any speeding, plus the road is too small for an effective sign, he said.

Previously, two entrances existed for the Southwest First Avenue drop-off area. One was on a one-way street privately owned by the church. Another was on Southwest Third Street.

Once the garage was opened, drivers began speeding and even going the wrong way on the private street, Hershkowitz said.

The garage was designed with a dip at the exit to make speeding difficult without damaging a car, said David Braden, regional vice president of Capstone On-Campus Management, which manages The Continuum.

“Of course we want all of the kids at the preschool to stay safe,” Braden said.

Gainesville traffic operations engineer Matt Weisman said the city has explored ways to help heavily trafficked areas by using crosswalks, expanded city police presence and rectangular flashing beacons.

Near schools and parks, the beacons help slow down traffic, he said. Pedestrian crosswalk signs seem to have a lesser effect. The signs are hit by cars and need increased maintenance, putting a toll on the budget.

“If it was a problem, of course we would have to go to the city commission with a plan to put in crosswalks or a speed hump and get funding,” he said.

For that to happen, a test would have to show 85 percent of drivers go at least five miles per hour above the speed limit, Weisman said. Usually, tests show speeding isn’t actually an issue.

Ridgewood Park resident Michael Andreu said traffic and speeding drivers have returned to the neighborhood after a speed sign was removed.

The sign was installed after the 46-year-old’s letters convinced the city to do a speed test. Without the sign, he’s again worried about safety for people walking around nearby Westside Middle School.

“We have no true solution to the problem,” Andreu said. “We’re just trying to be patient and not get frustrated.”

Weisman said the city installed beacons on Southwest 62nd Boulevard where speeding and traffic caused multiple pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

The preschool’s street has on-street parking and diagonal parking to naturally slow down cars, he said.

“A lot of this is education,” Weisman said. “People need to be reminded there is a school and a church in that area.”

As for the Continuum, tenants were recently warned not to speed on the shared road, Braden said.

The city should install traffic signs or speed bumps to deter motorists, Hershkowitz said. This would be more effective than emails or fliers from the complex’s office.

Mann said the city temporarily halted all traffic devices such as speed bumps because of delays in emergency vehicle response times. The street has also become narrower through the years due to development.

“The city tried to do whatever we could about the issue,” Mann said. He said the church putting up its own traffic signs is illegal.

Gainesville Police Department spokesman Ben Tobias said he wasn’t aware of a speeding issue, but police could be sent to monitor area traffic.

Two citations were given in the area since last year, GPD records show. Neither involved the preschool or the complex’s parking garage.

Hershkowitz said there have been at least two accidents since the parking garage was built, though no children were hurt in either.

Shannon Bloodworth, 34, said the speeding has been so bad recently she no longer trusts her 4-year-old daughter, Ella, to safely get to the preschool door from Bloodworth’s car.

“I’m sure city taxpayers would prefer a sign go up instead of someone being hurt or killed because they couldn’t find a place to put the sign,” Bloodworth said.


About Jeanna Arroyo

Follow me @jdarroyo1266 on Twitter I'm a senior at the University of Florida. My major is journalism, with a concentration in photojournalism. I minored in art history, so ask me about Rococo.
This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Construction On Main Street Causes Inconvenience

The S Main Street northbound lane closed on Nov. 10 for construction at its intersection with Depot Avenue. The construction proved to be an inconvenience for motorists, business owners and residents alike.


Parents of Gainesville High School students line up at Planet Fitness to pick up their students after a bomb threat. Students and staff were evacuated from GHS after a threat was called in around noon.

Gainesville High School Receives Two Additional, Identical Bomb Threats

Gainesville High School received a bomb threat and subsequently evacuated all students and staff to a nearby Planet Fitness parking lot on Wednesday. GHS received two additional, identical threats Thursday morning, but the school has not been evacuated.


Commodore Mullet and his dog Missy share a sleeping bag to keep warm. Temperatures reached 20 degrees below average.

Alachua County Homeless Seek Relief From Cold

Homeless individuals in Alachua County find ways to cope with the cold weather. Some choose to sleep inside at shelters like Grace Marketplace, while others prefer to stay outside with their possessions, rely on friendship to stay warm.


Victoria Warfel, shows dog owner, Beverly Gilbertson, techniques on how to relax her dog Peedee, before releasing him from his kennel.

Finding Your Dog’s Zen

Peedee Gilbertson had a knack for launching off the ground and jumping onto beds, and the hyperactive terrier-mix’s owners were running out of answers on just how to keep up with him. “We’ve had him in classes before to no [...]


The fountain in the garden of the Historic Thomas Center is in need of repair. The Center has applied for a $75,000-grant to make the necessary improvements.

Thomas Center Applies For Grant To Restore Historic Fountain

Because of years of deterioration, the Thomas Center has applied for a $75,000-grant from the Division of Historical Resources Bureau of Historic Preservation to restore a fountain some say dates back to 1928. The Thomas Center had to match 25 percent of the requested funds in its own budget to be considered eligible by the Florida Department of State.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments