By Ben Rodgers
HOBART – For possibly the first time ever, the Hobart village board and the Pulaski school board held a joint meeting, Tuesday, March 10, at Hillcrest Elementary School.
The meeting was in regards to safety improvements and a school crossing for the Pulaski district school located in the Village of Hobart.
“One of the hurdles we face, and it’s really self-imposed, is our budget cycles don’t overlap,” said Aaron Kramer, village administrator. “They don’t run concurrently.”
Hobart’s budget runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, while the school district’s runs from July to July, he said.
In late 2018, the village board was approached by a concerned parent about the lack of a crossing on Hillcrest Drive, where the speed limit is 45 mph, and Concord Way, a residential street near the school.
“Whatever we do, we have to time it so it lines up with our budgets,” Kramer said.
The village has a plan which was presented by Cole Runge, interim director of the Brown County Planning Commission.
Runge said permanently reducing the speed limit on Hillcrest is not recommended on a county level.
Instead, the plan calls for a crosswalk at Concord for the school, complete with solar-powered, button-activated rectangular flashing beacons, and/or a change to the speed sign with flashing lights and a speed board.
A cost estimate from last year puts the cost for the crossing and the beacon lights at just under $55,000.
Runge said there is a need for the crossing based on data the county collected last school year.
“We actually saw at least two school buses drive from the school, across the street, went into a neighborhood a couple hundred yards and let kids out,” he said.
A survey with more than 300 responses from last year had more than 70 percent of respondents say they would consider allowing their children to walk to school if a crosswalk was constructed, Runge said.
Kramer said the village is anticipating a surplus during an audit this summer to free up funds.
“All indications are we did run a good surplus,” Kramer said. “We will go to the board with additional projects and investing that money. At that point, if we have a cost-sharing agreement reached, we can put our money on the table.”
Tony Klaubauf, interim superintendent for the Pulaski school district, said the district has about $30,000 set aside for the project.
However, the $55,000 estimate only includes the crosswalk, not any school property, where a path would need to be completed so students could get to the school.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t find other dollars, but we were planning on covering for sure from the right-of-way up to our building with the changes,” Klaubauf said.
Another addition to the project would be the installation of a speed table in the Hillcrest parking lot, essentially a longer and more flat speed bump.
“We want to slow the cars down in the parking lot as well, and make sure the crossing is visible, so when kids cross the parking lot, they’re safe as well,” Runge said.
Because it’s a county road, not a village road, the county needs to give approval, something Runge said would likely happen, as long as the county was not responsible for any funds for the project.
The boards directed administration to work together to bring proposals for both to vote on separately in April.
The Hobart representative on the Pulaski school board, Mark LeMere, was not at the meeting.