Williamstown to close portions of two streets for new school

Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, discusses street changes and dropoff and pickup areas for the new Williamstown Elementary School during Tuesday’s meeting of Williamstown City Council. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

WILLIAMSTOWN — When the new Williamstown Elementary School opens, portions of two streets will be closed to make way for the school and to create student dropoff and pickup areas.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, said Caroline Avenue and Elizabeth streets will be closed when the new school opens.

Elizabeth Street will be closed from Henderson Avenue to Cherry Street and Caroline Avenue will be closed in front of the area where the parking lots were for Fenton Art Glass.

Fling said Caroline Avenue would be replaced by a loop for pre-kindergarten students.

“Pre-k, by law, is a hand-to-hand distribution of students,” he said. “The parent is supposed to hand to hand to the aide or teacher, so we set up a place where the parents will have a place to park and have a place to loop around to keep from blocking other traffic.”

At the other end of the school, Fling said, will be the location for the bus loop and a separate loop for parents dropping off or picking up students. A loop for bus traffic will be off Henderson Avenue.

“It was a goal when we set this all up and started designing was to separate parent traffic from bus traffic for safety reasons obviously,” he said. “It also helps with congestion in the overall workings of the school.”

From the bus loop, he said, the students will go directly to the cafeteria or the school gymnasium to wait for classes to begin.

Fling said for the most part the school will be located where the parking lots were, not the glass plant. He said the plan was to try to use exiting streets for access, causing less disturbance for those living near the school.

Fling was asked if he thought the construction would be needed for Henderson Avenue near the school.

Councilman Jim Stage asked if Fling or the board of education wants an expansion of Henderson Avenue.

“I do not think there is a need to widen Henderson Avenue at this time,” he said. “When we began this five years ago we talked with the state about widening the turn area. I don’t think we need it since they turn so much better than they did before.”

Fling said bids for the actual school construction are to be opened on March 13, but he doesn’t think any work will begin until after April 1.

As for plans for the old school, Fling said that is at the point where open discussion is needed.

“It was long thought the city was interested in the building,” he said. “It’s a future discussion that needs to happen.”

Fling said it would be best for the city to approach the board of education at a later time.

“There are a lot of spaces, you as the city, could use in the newer section,” he said.

Fling said the main obstacle in using the spot is the demolition of the old building.

Councilman Marty Seufer, who presided over the meeting in place of Mayor Jean Ford, said the council would have an ordinance to close the streets needed for the school on the March 20 agenda.