Spurred by accidents involving three pupils in the past year, CountyExecutive Robert R. Neall has pledged $50,000 to begin plans for laying sidewalk along Outing Avenue in front of George Fox Middle in Pasadena.
Two students have been struck by cars on Outing Avenue in the past year. Just around the corner from the school, on Catherine Avenue, a pupil was killed on Memorial Day weekend.
Assistant Principal Patricia Cording said half of the school's 830 pupils live close enough to walk home.
"We're thrilled about getting the sidewalks," Cording said. "I am very pleased. It's been quite a problem. There is very little shoulder on Outing Avenue. We have a big problem when it snows. The little shoulder that is there becomes very obscure, and kids are forced to walk further in the street. Weare hoping to prevent further injury."
County officials estimate they will need $1.4 million to lay sidewalk along the entire route, including at least $350,000 for purchasing right-of-way easements. Neall is asking homeowners, many of whose homes sit extremely close to the road, to donate the rights-of-way in order to expedite the project.
Until they can raise the necessary money, county officials are looking at such alternatives as turning Outing Avenue into a one-way street to create space for a walking path.
While the county plans, however, the Board of Education has made temporary arrangements to provide bus transportation for pupils living in the most heavily traveled areas -- especially the Green Haven community. Neighbors have beensolicited to help direct pupils down assigned walking paths.
The lack of sidewalks in front of the Pasadena school has been a sore spot in the community for years. After numerous letter-writing campaigns, parents finally succeeded after they organized a safety committee along with the countywide Parent-Teacher Association and presented thelack of sidewalks as a problem not confined to George Fox.
"We'regetting close, but we're not quite there," said Carolyn Roeding, president of the county Parent-Teacher Association. "We're still workingon the situation. We've made a lot of progress and had a lot of cooperation from the school board, county and representatives."
Gregory V. Nourse, county budget and management analyst, said the county has only $250,000 in the fund it uses for school-related work off Boardof Education property, including easements and sewer lines. The $50,000 already pledged by Neall is included in that figure.
"We stillhave to work out easements," Nourse said. "We have already begun to look at options. We can get into significant dollars because we are talking about hundreds of feet. Hopefully, property owners will donatesmall strips of their property. That's the part that the community association will play.
"The administration will spend the next yearworking on the small projects and looking at the big ones," he added. "George Fox is a big one."
Over the next year, Nourse said, the county will be reviewing needs for sidewalks at Crofton and Central middle schools and Oakwood, Hillsmere, Benfield, Southgate, Manor Viewand Freetown elementaries.
In the spring, a High Point Elementarypupil crossing the street to board a school bus was struck by a car.And parents succeeded in getting the streets near Glen Burnie High clearly marked for children traffic after a girl was killed crossing Ritchie Highway a few years ago.