By Mary Struck, Publisher/Editor
The Kohler School District is exploring options for reconfiguring and expanding its existing parking lot. The school wanted feedback from the Village Board before proceeding, so it asked Steven Kuhnen of Bray Architects to present computer renderings showing different options at the August 19 Village Board meeting.
The designs address confusion and safety hazards during busy school times as the top priority, while also providing extra parking spaces for events. Two of the options show a stretch of Upper Road being eliminated from Orchard Road to the west end of the school property to accommodate more parking spaces.
Option 1 (below) shows the existing property, where are many safety issues and havoc with students walking to and from the school building between cars.
Option 2 shows two parking lots, each with its own ingress and egress divided by a paved, tree-lined walkway where students may be dropped off to safely walk to the building. To accommodate more parking spaces, the grassy playground area would be moved. The one-way drive under the canopy would be blocked during busy times, and then reopened after.
Option 3 is similar to option 2, but Upper Road would be swallowed by additional parking spaces. Greenfield Drive would be the only access to the school parking lot.
Option 4 is the same as option 3, except the existing playground green space is preserved by reducing the size of the west parking lot.
The Village Board agreed that it was willing to go forward in taking a look at the recommendation, while the school board explores cost estimates and funding options.
Overtaking Upper Road would require the Village to vacate that stretch of property. The property would then revert to the original owner, which would be either the school or Kohler Co. depending on what the deed says. The Village’s attorney, Mike Bauer, will look into that as well as the statutory guidelines and procedures involved in abandoning a road.
Village Trustee Mike Zimmermann suggested eliminating Upper Road further west to West Park Lane to address the traffic issues at that awkward intersection. Zimmermann also questioned how snow removal would be handled, after mountains of snow left by plows last year blocked parking spaces. The snow also covered the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to walk on the street. Hauling the snow away would be an added expense.
After a bike ride it occurred to me that the sidewalk that currently runs parallel to Upper Road is either cut off in Option 2 by the parking lot ingress/egress, or doesn’t exist at all in Options 3 or 4. Hopefully the plans allow for a paved path to be added.