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H-F needs to make parking lot safety a priority

On a list of 15 possible improvement projects at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, members of the board’s Finance Committee said the No. 1 priority should be improving the drop-off routes and bus lanes.

The high school’s campus is at the north edge of Flossmoor. The South Building at 999 Kedzie Ave. is on a major four-lane road. There is one stop light for three entrances into the school’s campus. The North Building at 800 Governors Highway is also on a major four-lane road, but there is no stop light to help drivers turn onto campus.

Luckily, no one has been seriously hurt, but the situation is a safety hazard that needs to be addressed, Superintendent Scott Wakeley said at the committee meeting Tuesday, Jan. 29. The high school has someone directing traffic on Kedzie Avenue at peak hours, but there needs to be a better, more permanent solution. 

On the ingress street from Kedzie at the front of H-F, there is a row of parking spaces designated for visitors and administrators. Buses park along that same ingress street for morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. Other buses park along the north side of the high school adjacent to the north parking lot. Parents are also dropping off students or they park in the parking lot waiting for dismissal.

Gerald Pauling, president of the board, described the problem as “the largest parking lot of kids crossing where all the cars are.  And then you’ve got buses.” 

Ryan Kelley of DLA Architects said the firm has considered how to make improvements. 

“It’s something we’ve been talking about and have a couple of concepts,” he said. His first recommendation is a traffic study so that the board has the data that would pinpoint how many vehicles come to the high school, by what routes and at what hours. “It gives you the data to create some options and really evaluate” the situation, he explained.

“I think all the people in town would be supportive if we just had a stop on Kedzie,” Wakeley said. “I think most people who have ever been here would be supportive of that.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation would be involved in improving and implementing any changes on Kedzie and Governors.

Kelley’s list of 15 projects were items that have been in discussion previously. Some projects, such as new flooring and improved lighting, can at least partially be covered by grants. Others have higher price tags, such as construction of a new Mall Building at the H-F stadium estimated to cost $6.6 million; library remodeling could be in the range of $7.1 million; and a $12 million reworking of B-Building that now has science classrooms but will be vacant when the science wing, now under construction, opens in 2025.

The school board is expected to change its reserve fund policy at the Feb. 20 meeting, reducing the amount of money District 233 needs to have on-hand. That change will free up cash for major projects.

The list of projects will be given to the school board’s seven members for review and input on how to prioritize the work.

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