Traffic concerns, community criticism for new school coming to Red Clay

By Michelle Provencher 10:40pm, January 23, 2013 - Updated 11:59pm, January 23, 2013
Assistant Superintendent of District Operations Ted Ammann tells WDEL's Michelle Provencher why he's pushing for a new elementary school in Hockessin.
A new school in Red Clay -- the name of which has yet to be determined -- is in the works and many Graves Road homeowners have a gripe with the school already.

WDEL's Michelle Provencher reports.

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Several traffic-related comments were heard from parents and the Graves Road residents who will be neighboring the new elementary school, which is set to open August 2015.

Ted Ammann is the Assistant Superintendent of District Operations, and says though he has been fielding many of the traffic concerns for the already congested community, the ball is really in DelDOT's court.

"So far we've had a collaborative approach. We started meeting with DelDOT a number of years ago. We've had some initial meetings to think about what some of their concerns are. As you heard tonight, obviously we're in the middle of our full traffic study now, and we're currently looking at that data and we'll be anxious to hear about DelDOT's requirements," says Ammann.

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People present for the information session Wednesday night suggested reducing the 45 miles-per-hour speed limit, prohibiting tractor trailer trucks from driving by or installing flashing yellow hazard lights. Ammann couldn't speak to whether DelDOT would consider these measures, but says they kept parents in mind when expanding the school's parking lot.

"At North Star and Linden Hill and some of our other schools, there's a lot of car rider traffic. So one of the things we've done with this project (is) we've made sure there's ample space for parents to pull in and off the road so that cars don't stack up onto Graves Road. We have over 50 spots designed for that car rider line," says Ammann.

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Despite criticisms about traffic patterns, the group at the info session appeared to be otherwise on board with the project.

Now is the time to put in your two cents, as it's still somewhat in its infancy.

"We're in what we call the pre-construction phase and we're certainly taking input. Obviously it comes down to the budget, we do have a hard number that we need to work with, so we'll figure out which of the various options can work together to make a safe, effective school" he says.

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Ammann also says security measures are being taken into consideration in the construction of the new building, especially given recent school violence.

"We have a great program in Red Clay, we keep all of our doors locked. In order to get into the school, there's a buzzer system. So parents need to be buzzed in. Obviously we're working with state and national security experts. We're going to have some walk-throughs of our existing buildings, and we're going to take some of their feedback and build that into our security plans," he says.

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The Graves Road school may come as a relief to parents of Brandywine Springs, Linden Hill and North Star elementary students since all are nearby, and all are overcrowded.

An application for the unnamed Graves Road Elementary school goes before the New Castle County Planning Board February 5th.

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