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Lantana officials reinstate crossing guards

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Crossing guards are back in the intersection of Lantana Trail and Stacee Lane after a 9-year-old boy was clipped by a vehicle on April 15 while riding his bike to school.

The accident occurred just over a year after a second grader on a bicycle was struck by a vehicle at the crosswalk on April 11, 2012. There were no serious injuries in either accident.

Officials from Lantana’s two fresh water supply districts (FWSD) met on April 22 to discuss pedestrian safety in the wake of the latest incident.

At the beginning of the meeting, Lantana General Manager Kevin Mercer reviewed actions the boards have taken to make the intersection safer.

The districts installed crosswalk signage in fall 2010, a school zone in January 2012, commissioned a traffic study last fall and modified the crosswalk this January due to safety concerns.

Temporary crossing guards from the sheriff’s department, paid for by the districts, were used at the crosswalk after the first accident and last fall before the crosswalk improvements.

Board members considered adding stop signs at the intersection last year, but a traffic study conducted last fall by the districts’ engineering firm, Huitt-Zollars, did not show a need for them.

“We cannot entertain a traffic signal or multi-way stop at Lantana Trail and Stacee Lane since the warrants were not met in the traffic study,” said Mercer.

He added that the Denton County engineer had reviewed the study and indicated peak traffic flow at the intersection may warrant stop signs. Mercer said he was waiting for a final determination.

Residents addressed board members at the meeting on suggestions to improve safety, with a majority expressing support for a permanent crossing guard at the intersection.

“If the experts say that we don’t need stop signs, rather than making an emotional decision, let’s really take into consideration what the experts have to say. I don’t want us to go against what the experts say and cause a bigger problem than what we already have,” said resident Jim Bridges, who also serves on the FWSD’s Public Safety Subcommittee.

“Something’s got to change, if we’ll put a tunnel under the street for a golf cart we should do it for our kids,” said Matthew Roberson, whose son was the victim of the latest incident.

After much discussion, the FWSD boards approved paying the sheriff or constable’s office for up to two officers to man the crosswalk in the mornings through the end of the current school year.

Mulling over long term fixes, the boards asked Mercer about the possibility of building a pedestrian tunnel under Lantana Trail at Stacee Lane.

“It possibly could be done, but the difficulty is all the underground utilities in that location,” said Mercer

Board members approved a motion to have the district’s engineer explore the cost and feasibility of building a tunnel.

The Public Safety Subcommittee was directed to put together a plan to determine the best approach to get insurance for and manage a volunteer crossing guard program comprised of residents.

The boards also discussed the lack of participation by Blanton Elementary and Harpool Middle School officials in finding solutions.

FWSD #7 board member Andrew Kloser said that the PTA presidents from both schools were invited to the meeting but did not show up.

“I’m frustrated by the lack of responsiveness we are getting from the schools,” said FWSD #7 President David Ware. “We do really want to build a partnership with the school and the PTA.”

Ware suggested that the boards address Denton ISD Trustees at their May school board meeting to ask for support for a crossing guard program.

The boards also approved posting the traffic study on the FWSD website at www.lantanatx.org.

After the meeting, District #6 board member Bob Baird called Tim Birch, Denton County Constable Pct. 4, and Birch was in the intersection helping children cross the next morning.

Birch’s office will handle the crosswalk duties with two constables per shift for $80 a day until school ends this June, Mercer said.

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