School crossing guard sought for N. Laurel

Busy intersection worries pupils' parents, neighbors

May 14, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

Concerned about traffic safety, a group of North Laurel parents is asking school and county officials to place a school crossing guard at a busy intersection near Laurel Woods Elementary School.

Parents and neighbors say they want Howard County to place a guard at North Laurel Road and Old Lantern Way to protect pupils who walk to and from the elementary school.

"There's a stop sign at the end of the street, but the cars just glide right through it," said Shannon Tomchick, a parent of two Laurel Woods students. "I am worried about the safety of these children."

Tomchick and members of the school's PTA have gathered more than 750 signatures on a petition from parents and other residents. They plan to send the petition to elected county officials, school board members and the Police Department in hopes that a guard will be posted at the intersection before the school year ends next month.

`Children don't look'

"I haven't spoken to one parent who didn't think a crossing guard should be at that intersection," said Cindy Bresson, president of the PTA. "So many parents have expressed an interest, especially because many of the children don't look when they walk across the street."

Laurel Woods Principal Roseanne Wilson has given her support to the parents' efforts. "I think it's necessary that we have a guard at that intersection," she said. "It might curtail something from happening there in the future."

Despite Wilson's endorsement, parents and residents know that getting county officials to agree to their request is likely to be an uphill battle. For years, they have petitioned for a crossing guard, but each time the request has been denied because North Laurel Road and Old Lantern Way did not meet the requirements for hiring a guard.

William F. Malone, chief of the traffic engineering division of Howard County's Department of Public Works, said his department did a study four years ago and "it was decided then that a crossing guard was not needed at that time." He said sight distance and the number of pupils who travel along a road play a role in determining whether a guard is needed.

New study due

Malone said his office will conduct another study in the next few weeks and make a recommendation to the Board of Education based on the findings. The school board and the Howard County Police Department will determine whether a guard is needed.

Tomchick said she hopes the outcome this time will be favorable.

"I am hoping and praying that we get the guard for the safety of the children," she said. "Four years ago is not today. We have a lot more walkers."

Pub Date: 5/14/99

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