Mettawee school's parking woes paved over

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WEST RUPERT — Rainy days created headaches at the Mettawee Community School. The problem with soggy weather was that poor drainage turned parts of the paved lot and driveway into ankle-deep lakes that limited available parking space and made walking between cars and school a wet obstacle course.

Not only were the students and parents required to navigate deftly around water, they also needed to be on guard for cars and buses entering and leaving the area. Staff, meanwhile, parked their cars on on the other side of the school in an unpaved grass lot that turned into mud with water-filled potholes at the slightest hint of rain. The dilemma only magnified in the winter when water turned into snow and ice.

But all that nuisance is no more. The MCS parking lot and traffic flow plan has been completely renovated and rethought. The old concrete was broken up and removed. A new drainage system installed. A new, expanded lot was paved, including the staff parking area on the north side of the school.

Additionally, the MCS administration used the parking lot renovation as an opportunity to rethink and redesign the traffic flow in and out of the school grounds.

"We wanted to make it easier to get the kids into the school," said principal Brooke DeBonis. "But our main concern was to make the parking area safe."

With that in mind, there will be a few important changes to school drop-off.

Traffic at the front entrance or south side of MCS will be limited to cars only. The old bus-only lane will now be used exclusively by parents dropping off their children at school.

As the youngsters exit the vehicle onto a sidewalk, staff will help guide them to the front door.

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Parents using this option will not be able to walk with their children to the school, they will simply drop off their kids and drive away. Parents wanting to take their children to the school, can still park in the lot near the front entrance of the school.

The repaved parking area, however, will now include clearly marked walkways designed to make foot traffic safer.

Staff and all buses, meanwhile, will enter the school grounds in a new designated area that takes them directly to the north side of the building (behind the school auditorium) and away from where parents drop off their kids.

The buses will have a designated lane that will leave the children at a sidewalk that leads them around to the front door.

Staff will park in a newly paved lot, complete with drainage, defined parking spaces, and pedestrian walkways. With this plan in place, no student will need to cross a traffic lane, unless they are accompanied by an adult.

The funding for the new parking lot is covered by the MCS Building & Ground Maintenance Reserve Fund. The work on the parking lot was overseen by the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union Director of Operations, Greg Harrington. The Mettawee School District is one of three districts in the BRSU.

"Having Greg available to take the lead on this construction project was a huge relief," DeBonis said. "Once we signed off on the plan, I was free to focus on getting ready to educate the kids this fall. And now I can breathe easier on rainy days."

Contact: Brooke DeBonis, 802-645-9009.


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