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Residents concerned about access to new East Elementary School

As plans for the new East Elementary School in Columbia move forward, some residents in nearby neighborhoods are expressing concerns.

The school board approved a development plan at its meeting last week and said it is working with the Homeowners Association to discuss plans for access to the school.

Columbia Public Schools said it wants to emphasize the development process for the new school is still in the very beginning stages.

But residents in both The Vineyards and Woodlands subdivisions next to where the school will be built said they’re concerned the areas could see increased traffic and safety issues if CPS doesn’t come up with a plan as far as an entrance to the school.

“We’re not opposed to the school,” said John Anderson, a resident of the Woodlands neighborhood. “We think this school will be wonderful for all concerned. But we’re concerned that the traffic situation has not been adequately addressed.”

Anderson’s house backs up to the land that is the future home of the new East Elementary School.

He said he’s concerned about how the school will be accessed, as there is no direct road to the property right now except through The Vineyards neighborhood.

‘We’re worried about the entrance from Rolling Hills into the school and we’re concerned about the connection here,” Anderson said, referring the dead end road of Raccoon Ridge.

He said he’s worried CPS and the city may decide to connect Raccoon Ridge to the Columbia Gorge Parkway, which is in The Vineyards neighborhood, as a way to access the school.

Nothing has been approved and CPS said they’re still in the discussion phase.

But the Vineyards Homeowners Association President sent ABC 17 News a statement saying, “The residents of The Vineyards are gravely concerned with the usage of the main road, Columbia Gorge, for both the Vineyards residents and the elementary school because of decreased safety, home value and overwhelming traffic to name a few.”

ABC 17 News reached out to CPS and was told traffic studies are still being conducted in the area and the board is still a ways out from making a final decision.

The board also said it has been meeting with HOA representatives and will continue to do so throughout the process.

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