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New options discussed to avoid driving near veterans stadium

by: JIM CLARK - Six people protested Tuesday morning, Aug. 28, over a new bus pick-up/drop-off route at Corbett Schools that would pass by the Jeff Lucas Memorial Veterans Stadium and plaza.Update: After meeting with protestors and a road contractor Thursday afternoon, Corbett School District officials are going to recommend to the school board that it upgrade an alternate existing access way so buses can get to the back of the school without driving by the memorial.

Superintendent Randy Trani wrote in an email that “it was a good meeting and we feel like this is a win, win, win for safety, traffic, and respecting people’s feelings.”

The original story is below.

Following a Tuesday morning protest and community outcry over the Corbett School District’s new bus pick-up and drop-off location near a local veteran’s memorial stadium, school officials and protesters agreed to look at new options.

School officials decided to have the buses drive behind Corbett Elementary School to drop off and pick up students in an effort to reduce traffic congestion in front of the school, when parents are dropping off or picking up their children. The buses began the new drop-off/pick-up route Monday, Aug. 27, when the new school year began.

But six people, including parents of Corbett students, met around 7 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, to block the school buses after they learned that the buses would be driving on an access road along the plaza in front of the Jeff Lucas Memorial Veterans Stadium.

The stadium is named for Jeffrey Alan Lucas, a 1989 Corbett High School graduate and Navy SEAL who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2005.

The plaza contains commemorative bricks that were purchased by residents and businesses to help raise funds for the stadium, which was completed in 2010. Several bricks list the names of military veterans and loved ones of those who purchased bricks.

School officials said the bus route did not go across the commemorative bricks with names. Protestors said the road in front of the plaza was intended just for emergency vehicles.

James Lucas, Jeff Lucas’ brother, took part in the Tuesday protest. He said he was concerned on how the bus traffic would affect the plaza.

“The bottom line is we don’t want to have any potential damage” to the memorial, Lucas said.

Superintendent Randy Trani, who met with the protestors on Tuesday, said they agreed to meet with a contractor on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 30, to “brainstorm a solution” and come up with a proposal that would please all sides.

“We’re trying to keep kids safe and we’re trying to come up with a solution that’s a win-win-win,” Trani said, adding that the buses are now picking up and dropping off students at a different location.

Lucas said he’d like to see a different route for the buses, such as one proposal that would have the buses travel around the football and baseball fields and exit onto Evans Road.

Trani said school district transportation staff oversaw the creation of the new bus route, which also had input from the Corbett Fire District and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

The Corbett School Board, which has highlighted improving traffic safety as a goal, learned about the new bus pick-up/drop-off area at its Aug. 15 meeting, Trani said.

Trani said parents and students were informed of the new bus route at registration and in the district’s August newsletter, which had aerial maps and arrows outlining where the buses would travel.

But protestors said they were not aware of the new bus route.

Lucas said he was happy that the district responded to their concerns while noting the “need to work on their communication.”

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