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CPS discussing possible options for access to new East Elementary School

ABC 17 News got a first look at a possible proposal for access to the planned East Elementary School in Columbia Friday.

For the last month, some residents in the neighborhoods near the planned school have been expressing their concerns about the increase in traffic and other possible safety hazards.

CPS wants to emphasize the information that was sent to residents in the Vineyards and Woodlands neighborhoods Friday is just a rough draft.

The drawing has not been presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and CPS is still working to see if the cost is doable and the proposal falls within city requirements.

“One of our challenges was really about egress for emergency vehicles and it requires that there be two entry points for egress,” said Michelle Baumstark, spokesperson for Columbia Public Schools.

Many residents in the Vineyards and Woodlands neighborhoods are against the first proposal that was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this month because the main entrance to the school would be through the Vineyards neighborhood.

The secondary entrance would connect the two neighborhoods.

Residents said they’re concerned the increased traffic would create safety hazards. Some told ABC 17 News they want a separate access road built.

After the vote on a proposal was tabled earlier this month, CPS has been back at the drawing board working to come up with a solution that benefits everyone.

“The challenge is one, as we’ve said before, we don’t own that land and so we’ll have to have a conversation with the landowner and we’ll have to talk about right of way access and if it’s possible for us to be able to afford the additional purchase,” Baumstark said.

The emergency access is also a challenge.

The rough draft graphic sent to residents in the two neighborhoods Friday shows both entry points to the school off Rolling Hills Road.

“What the fire regulation says is you have to have two different entry points,” Baumstark said. “They were not accepting that both entry points be off the same road.”

But she said the city could provide an opportunity to make it work.

“Perhaps for some flexibility in some of their requirements, which would then allow us to make some adjustments potentially to the design of the elementary school and for access,” Baumstark said.

But CPS is still working with engineers and the city for a solution.

“Everything right now is still up in the air because we have a lot of work ahead of us as far as engineering and then looking at costs,” Baumstark said.

CPS is requesting the vote be delayed to the November 19 Planning and Zoning meeting.

It was originally set for next Thursday after being tabled earlier this month.

CPS said the city confirmed the traffic study shows the original proposal was adequate, but CPS said it wants to work with its new neighbors to address their concerns.

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