MILLSBORO – Change in the name of student safety is in the works for signage along Wilson Highway within Millsboro’s town limits.
Through code amendment, Millsboro’s town council plans to act on Millsboro Middle School’s request to replace two "No Parking This Side of Street” signs with "No Stopping, Standing, Parking” signage.
Delaware State Police Det. Jeff Hudson, Millsboro Middle School’s assigned School Resource Officer, presented the middle school’s request at town council’s Sept. 4 meeting.
"Basically, what we have got is due to some safety concerns, in the last three or four years we’ve seen numerous kids almost get hit there on Morris (Street) and Wilson (Highway). So, we have designated at the school, drop-off and pick-up every student on school property,” said Det. Hudson, who also handles safety-related aspects for the Indian River School District.
Years ago, buses stopped on Wilson Highway and kids got off and went to school, he noted.
"Times have changed,” Det. Hudson said. "Buses, parents, staff members use this roadway causing congestion at the intersection.”
In 2016, Millsboro Middle School established a parent pick-up/drop-off line on school property. Parents enter on East State Street and exit onto Wilson Highway. "No Stopping, Standing or Parking” signage is currently placed along East State Street.
All Millsboro Middle School buses drop off and pick up students on school property. That’s approximately 800 students. An estimate 100 students are dropped off by parents. There are also several dozen students who walk to and from school.
Millsboro Middle School utilizes a custodian to assist traffic, including bus and parent departure. The intersection has been enhanced by a pedestrian/student crosswalk, which further increases safety concerns.
"It’s working OK, but our main concern is really the parents that are either running late or they don’t want to abide by the rules and they will pull up right to the intersection of Church and Wilson and drop their kids off,” said Det. Hudson. "Parents that just don’t want to stand in line will stop where my custodian is and just drop them off, causing a lot of problems.”
"I’ve had parents over the years … I think they are starting to figure out whether reading the sign or not, but their comment to me or my custodian sometimes is, ‘I’m not parking. I am just stopping,’” Det. Hudson said.
The hope is simple "No Stopping, Standing or Parking” signage will cure the problem.
Det. Hudson said the school wanted these restrictions all day. "But I thought it would be best from 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The start and end of a school day, traffic is extremely heavy,” he said.
Det. Hudson said the intent is not to cite parents. "That’s not what I want to do,” he said. "We want to do an educational piece. If you approve this, what we’d like to do is do an ‘alert now,’ which is a phone message to all parents noting the change … and that we’re going to educate the parents that they need to use the proper drop-off on school property.”
The school’s signage request has the blessing of the IRSD administration and Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway.
Coinciding with new signage is the removal of decades-old, obsolete "School Bus Loading Zone” signs on Wilson Highway south of Church Street.
"It was there when I went to school. It’s not needed anymore,” Det. Hudson said.
Town councilman Tim Hodges offered to go one step further, recommending that additional directional signage be placed directing parents to the designated student drop-off zone on school property. It drew favorable support.
"I think it makes sense,” said Mr. Hodges. "If we are going to tell them they can’t do this, we ought to also be telling them what they should be doing.”
At the advice of Millsboro town solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox who noted the request will require an amendment to town code, council did not act on the request at the Sept. 4 meeting.
"You have a couple different provisions where you designate the streets, where you say, ‘No Stopping, No Standing, No Parking.’ So, technically speaking it’s a little bit more than just switching out the signs because you are now creating ‘No Stopping and No Standing’ zones,” said Ms. Schrider-Fox. "You’ll need to amend those provisions of the code to reflect the portions of the street that you are talking about.”
Ms. Schrider-Fox said it’s a simple matter of placing it on a council agenda "that you are going to amend those specific provisions; which streets and exactly which portions … and how much of Wilson Highway is at issue.”
This code amendment will not require a public hearing, Ms. Schrider-Fox said.
"We can’t act on that tonight. We’ll have to wait until next month,” said Millsboro Mayor John Thoroughgood. "I think we all understand what you are trying to accomplish here.”
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