The Haines School Board is not interested in extending Fifth Avenue to provide another access point from Main Street to the school parking lot. It comes down to safety.
The idea came up at a major maintenance meeting earlier this summer. Public facilities director Brad Ryan explained the reasoning at a school board meeting in August.
“We think opening up Fifth Avenue would help traffic flow and maybe even help some of the safety issues with people not obeying the one-way sign behind the school,” said Ryan.
At a recent assembly meeting, borough manager Debra Schnabel said the extension would help expand access.
“Just as a resident of the community I find it pretty strange that I – I can see the school there from Main Street but I have to go all the way down Third Avenue and around and come down this way,” said Schnabel. “This will allow people to access the school building coming onto the parking lot on the east side off the school by the swimming pool.”
But at that same meeting, assembly member Stephanie Scott said there’s a reason the street is closed off to begin with.
“The whole reason not to have that Fifth Avenue was that it would be dangerous,” said Scott.
Right now, the only access into the school parking lot is from the Haines Highway. There’s a one-way street near the rear of the school that connects with Main Street. But cars are not supposed to enter from that road. The one-way Main Street access is a safety concern.
But the message from the school board this week was clear: extending Fifth Avenue won’t make the parking lot safer, but it could make it more dangerous.
“Our kids would be crossing basically a street by putting that through,” said Interim Superintendent Rich Carlson. “So I’m not sure if it’s resolving a safety issue, but probably adding to a safety issue.”
Carlson’s concerns had support from members of the board, like Jeanne Kitayama.
“I agree with Rich that it’s just going to be a problem,” said Kitayama. “Yeah it might be inconvenient for those few times when it’s like an event here. But just day-to-day it’s going to be more of a problem.”
Sara Chapell said there are safety issues that need to be addressed, but she’s not convinced this is the solution.
“I appreciate that there may be an issue that needs some resolution but I agree with Rich,” said Chapell. “I feel like extending fifth avenue would present a new set of risks and challenges that we would then have to deal with. I just don’t think this is the solution.”
The board voted unanimously against a resolution that would have recommended the extension of Fifth Avenue to the assembly.