The Leesville community can be a hazardous place. A dire lack of crosswalks cause daily worries for students and athletes; a congested and heavily-residential surrounding neighborhood amplifies those problems.
Those concerns were finally recognized last fall when a Leesville HS student was hit by a car on a nearby crosswalk. A plethora of upset students, parents, neighbors and even city planners came together to form a plan for a safer Leesville — and the Leesville Community Safety Task Force (LCSTF) was born.
“We saw the need to help make the area safer for our children as well as our community,” wrote Charmane Dail, LCSTF coordinator, via email. “Our task force is dedicated to bringing better safety infrastructure to our area.”
In just a few meetings, LCSTF has already made significant strides towards executing several projects.
They’re striving to implement more and better sidewalks, crosswalks and crosslights along nearby Leesville Rd., O’Neal Rd., Tylerton Rd., Pinecrest Rd., Fairbanks Rd. and Country Trl. It’s an ambitious but much-needed plan of action — read our feature from earlier this month on the state of the Leesville community crosswalks.
While working with representatives from the City of Raleigh’s Bicycle & Pedestrian and Parks & Recreation departments, the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) and the principals of all three Leesville schools, the LCSTF is also planning on applying for a Safe Routes to School grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“This grant will enable the City to build infrastructure to support bicycle and pedestrian safety in the area,” explained Dail, “as well as further educate our school kids and our community on these important safety issues.”
Pending a June 18th approval vote, the unnamed street on the western border of the Leesville campus will soon be named Pride Way. It’s a fitting title that, per Dail, “allows people and emergency vehicles find the schools with more ease.”
That renaming will be unveiled along with many other exciting activities at the Back to School Safety Day, a community event to be hosted at LRHS on Saturday, Aug. 24. Then, when the 2013-2014 school year begins just two days later, Leesville Middle will begin dismissing students at 3 p.m. (rather than this year’s 3:10 p.m. release) to decrease the commotion during Leesville Elementary’s 3:45 pm dismissal.
Moreover, the LCSTF is working with the city’s Parks & Recreation Dept. to build a 10-foot-wide trail between Whitley Dr. and Country Trl. and expand the amenities at the Leesville Community Park on Country Trl.
Yet residents of the Leesville community still aren’t fully satisfied. At the task force’s Nov. 26, 2012, meeting, attendees suggested projects ranging from a dangerous driver reporting system to building new stoplights to lowering nearby speed limits. So far, those concerns — while largely justified — still haven’t found their way onto the agenda.
As the LCSTF continues to grow in size and exposure, they hope to one day advance past small projects and execute a complete overhaul of the Leesville area infrastructure. Long-term goals already include extending Hilburn Dr. and widening Leesville Rd. between Westgate Rd. and Country Trl.
“We are grateful to our community, the WCPSS…and the City of Raleigh for bringing much needed attention to pedestrian and bicycle safety in our area,” wrote Dail in closing.