From the FranklinNOW website:
Franklin — As a parent of a former Pleasant View Elementary School student, John Michlig knows as well as anyone how the conditions can be for students trying to get to school.
Subdivisions on either side do not have a sidewalk or path connection to the school. The road that brings vehicles to the school does not have a shoulder on which a child could ride a bike. Buses must squeeze onto narrow city streets.
It's bad enough that Michlig has seen children get picked up by a school bus a mere two blocks away because they do not have a safe route to walk to the school.
"You got this condition people refer to as, 'Nearby is far away,' " Michlig said.
Michlig has been a volunteer on the Franklin Trails Committee since it formed last year to address problems on 51st Street near Pleasant View, 4601 W. Marquette Ave.
Funding help In the last week, Franklin was awarded a $19,700 grant for a federal program called Safe Routes to School. The program encourages children from kindergarten through eighth grade to walk and bike to school by creaking safer biking and walking routes.
Franklin was one of 34 communities in Wisconsin to receive funding.
With that money, officials will plan possible improvements in the Pleasant View area, which may include anything from sidewalks to a foot bridge over a nearby creek.
After the planning stages are complete, the trails committee hopes to receive a much larger, possible six-figure second grant to pay for those improvements.
Planning the path
But first things first: coming up with the plan.
Part of the process includes soliciting feedback from businesses and residents in the area so everyone is on the same page about what the neighborhood needs, Michlig said. Their input will help assess the needs of the area.
Committee members want to find out how to make it easier for neighborhood kids to walk to school. Many city officials and those in the neighborhood participated in a "walking workshop" last spring and were struck by how difficult that can be, Michlig said.
"We heard it again and again - we as parents are stuck having to drive our child to school when actually it's so close," Michlig said.
Plus, by encouraging the idea of walking to school, kids would also be more physically fit without having to go out of their way to find exercise opportunities, Michlig said.
Mark Cloutier, the school district's manager of buildings and grounds, said that while the district does not have control over what goes on outside its boundaries, school officials support sidewalks and anything that makes pedestrian access better in the community.
He noted there is a sidewalk in front of the school itself and he did not expect the Safe Routes to School program to change the district's requirement to bus every student.
Pedestrian accommodations were recently improved near another school building just to the south, when 51st Street in front of Franklin High School was reconstructed and sidewalks were added with the help of federal stimulus money.
Read the rest at: Group eyes safer ways to get to school - FranklinNOW