by Sarah Hall
KOHLER – Closing off a section of Upper Road may be an appropriate tradeoff to improve safety and gain up to 133 additional Kohler Public School parking lot spaces, the Kohler Village Board agreed at its August meeting.
School Superintendent Quynh Trueblood and Business Manager Matt Kautzer asked the board to offer feedback on three upgrade options which would ease parking congestion and remove potential pedestrian and traffic hazards. Bray Architects representative Steven Kuhnen also attended, provided proposed site drawings and answered questions. Two of the options would claim the adjacent Upper Road area for parking space, one would involve paving over the grassy play area on the side instead and one would utilize both opportunities for expansion.
It has been at least 15 years since any improvements have been made to the school parking lot, according to Trueblood.
“There’s a lot of confusion during the drop-off and pick-up times, and we want to address that also,” Kautzer explained. He noted that parking is especially tight during athletic events and performances. Because a single, multi-use school building houses junior kindergarten through 12th grade, there is a great deal of coming and going in one parking lot.
When reached afterwards, Board of Education President Dr. Jane Bishop offered her take on the situation: “We’re running out of parking spaces, and there’s pandemonium at the beginning and end of the school day. We need to configure it better to make it safer. It’s approaching an emergency situation.” The school board is currently seeking cost estimates and determining funding options, and will further address the topic at its Monday, August 26 meeting. Bishop is hoping the actual work might occur as early as 2020 or 2021.
Trustee Mike Zimmermann pointed out that all the snow last winter further curtailed the number of available parking lot spaces, creating a difficult situation.
“I don’t like Upper Road. It’s so crowded … and a safety issue for the kids, especially during football games,” Zimmermann added.
The village board further discussed how the upgrades could make the somewhat dangerous West Park Lane and Greenfield Drive intersection less hazardous.
Questions arose as to who would own the Upper Road property if it ceased serving as a public thoroughfare in order to become parking lot space, and Village Board Attorney Mike Bauer said it would revert to the original owner – presumably the school district – and he offered to provide relevant guidelines.