Parents are worried about where the sidewalk ends in Independence, Missouri.
The path for the new Independence elementary school is on the shoulder of the road. There are actually two elementary schools and one middle school along that same street.
“We try to stay with the white lines as we come in,” said James Brownbill, one parent who frequently walks his children to school along the dangerous path.
In total, Brownbill walks with seven kids including his child, his grandkids and some neighbors.
“It’s stressful sometimes,” said Brownbill.
“Some of them are just so tiny and they have to dodge cars. They have to walk in the grass sometimes, in the ditches,” said nearby resident Charles Poling.
Cassell Park Elementary opened its doors for the first time this week. Parents shared their concerns about the lack of sidewalks on 31st Street and Hardy Avenue. Neighbors worry, too.
“I can’t believe they’d build a school and not put sidewalks in for kids to walk on it. It’s absurd, it really is,” said Poling.
The mayor of Independence lives in this neighborhood. She, too, walks along these narrow shoulders and wants parents to know that their concerns are not falling on deaf ears.
“There really is a safety issue. There absolutely is no doubt about it,” said Independence Mayor Eileen Weir.
Mayor Weir says funding to fix this would come from the streets sales tax, which was renewed in 2017. The city will implement a new sidewalk program starting in 2020. There was no permanent funding mechanism before.
“I’ll fight very hard to make sure that this is a priority area,” said Mayor Weir.
But the fix may not be so far down the road.
“The superintendent, Dr. Hurl, and I have talked about some other programs that we could use in this area to start construction of sidewalks sooner,” said Mayor Weir.
For some parents and neighbors, that can’t come soon enough.
“Just make it safe,” said Brownbill.
“They need to get sidewalks in and do it now,” said Poling.
City leaders say criteria is still being developed for the sidewalk program. It will include factors like pedestrian accident history, traffic volume and speed limits. They will also look at the proximity of schools, bus stops, and grocery stores.