EVART - The Evart City Council is looking at ways to improve safety in the school zone around the middle school.

Council members have been in discussions regarding a possible traffic study in the area to determine if placing stop signs at the intersection at Oak Street would help reduce traffic speed in the area.

At the council meeting July 27, Public Works Director and Assistant City Manager Mark Wilson presented the board with several alternative solutions.

"After speaking with Michael Labadie, a traffic engineer with Rowe and Associates, regarding a traffic study proposal, he suggested before we do that, we talk with school officials about possible solutions," Wilson said.

Wilson told the council he met with the school superintendent, the middle school principal and the transportation supervisor, and they discussed several of the traffic issues and possible solutions that could be put into effect that would have an immediate impact on the problems around the school without having to do a traffic study.

"One of the things that we discussed that would have an immediate impact on traffic and pedestrian issues was where parents drop off students, which entrances will be used by students being dropped off by parents and which entrances will be used by students dropped off by bus," Wilson said.

"One of the biggest issues is children being dropped off on 5th Street and crossing the road to the school," he said. "That was one of the things we identified as immediate action the school and the city could take, to not allow students to cross that street."

As part of the plan to enhance student safety, there will be designate student pick up and drop off areas to help reduce traffic congestion. The plan also calls for placing signs along the south side of the school notifying parents that they cannot drop off or pick up their children in that area, and designating the parent drop off and pick up on the north side of the school only.

Other short-term solutions include placement of school zone signs on all approaches to the middle school, painting bold crosswalks at all four intersections surrounding the school, having additional school personnel outside during drop off and pick with pedestrian crosswalk signs and creating traffic calming the entire length of Oak Street by painting center lines and fog-lines to delineate drive lanes and parking lanes.

"The traffic speed on Oak Street is the main issue that brought this traffic study up for discussion," Wilson said. "There are a lot of traffic studies that indicate reducing lane size and painting traffic markings in the street, like center lanes and fog-lines, can slow traffic down.

"These things, in conjunction with what the school is doing, can have an immediate impact on traffic speed and congestion around the school and hopefully resolve the issue so we wouldn't have to go any further with a traffic study that would only be on one intersection on Oak Street," he said. "For the total cost of $6,100, I think we can get a lot of bang for our buck."

Mayor John Joyce said safety is what they are working for and the proposed solutions were a great alternative.

Council approved moving forward with the project, with the plan to have the changes in place before school resumes in the fall.

In other business, City Manager Sarah Dvoracek informed the council that a proposal has been sent to Evart Township officials regarding the possible annexation of property in the Industrial Park, which is in Evart Township.

"A proposal has been sent to the Evart Towsnhip officials," Dvoracek said. "Our attorney has contacted their attorney, but we have not received a response from the township yet."

The property was purchase by Evart Industrial Properties, LLC., part of the Lume Cannibus Company. The company plans to expand the current marijuana grow facility and is requesting the property be annexed by the city of Evart.

Evart Township officials have said they are willing to consider an annexation proposal from the city, but will make a decision regarding annexation of the property at a later time.

No details about the proposal were discussed during the council meeting.

The Evart city council will meet at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 10.

For information on how to participate in the meeting visit evart.org, or call (231) 734-2181.