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Knapp Road School Signal Hits Roadblock A Third Time

Councilman Rich DiGregorio is adamant about getting a flashing school signal for Knapp Road, but without Montgomery Township on board, it's a dead issue

The third time isn't a charm for Lansdale Councilman Rich DiGregorio.

DiGregorio's request for the public safety committee to look at a flashing school crossing on Knapp Road has been denied for a third time in four years in a 3-0 vote.

The issue: and North Penn School District need to be part of an interagency agreement to install the lights. Knapp Road is the dividing line in that part of town between Lansdale Borough and Montgomery Township.

At the public safety committee meeting this month, Lansdale Police Chief Robert McDyre estimated the cost of install at $60,000 split three ways.

Public Safety Committee member and council Vice President Paul Clemente voted to deny the request for a third time.

"This has been asked and answered two, three, five times. It was voted down in 2008 and 2009," he said.

"While I apprecaite Mr. DiGregorio coming through committee this time, this is a complete waste of time," Clemente said. "It's a moot issue."

Committee member Mary Fuller said Montgomery Township already said no to supporting the flashing beacon. 

"The bottom line is, is there a safety issue for children? In my opinion, there's not," Fuller said. "Montgomery Township said they are not interested."

Clemente said the request sounds like a personal agenda.

"Let's kill this now," Clemente said. "Let's keep beating a dead horse and hope it gets revived."

Public Safety Committee Chairman Mike Sobel brought the issue up during a report on the committee at the council work session this month.

Sobel said it was an issue that "keeps coming up and coming up and coming up."

"It was something that was brought up and denied in 2008. In 2009, it was discussed in committee and denied, either for fudning or lack of cooperation. None of that has changed," Sobel said.

Sobel said there needs to be intermunicipal agreements with Montgomery Township and North Penn School District to proceed with the school beacon.

"Right now, there's no way this is going to happen," he said. "We are very concerned for the safety of schoolchildren, but this is not feasible. We don't have other parties we need to have participating."

Councilman Jack Hansen, who represents Ward Three with, and is a neighbor of, DiGregorio, said he has heard from many residents and parents of school students about the need for a flashing light.

"It's a constant question: Why don't we have lights here? Why don't we show a school zone here?" Hansen said. "They don't see any flashing lights when kids are out playing. It's something we still have to look at. We have to contact Montgomery Township and bring them on."

Sobel reiterated that Montgomery Township has no inteerst.

"Children safety is number one, but you need three parties on this cooperating," Sobel said. "It's pushing a rope at this point." 

Hansen said the borough must continue to work on the issue and make it happen.

DiGregorio said the school district is on board with it.

"The only block is Montgomery Township," DiGregorio said.

"It's a huge one, Rich," said Sobel. "We can't put one up on one side of the street. Why did you deny it in 2008 and 2009? You were on the committee."

"I think it was finance," DiGregorio said. "We didn't have the money." 

Sobel said there are signs posted notifying the area as a school zone. 

"Lights is an important situation," DiGregorio said.

Sobel reiterated that he didn't want it to sound like the borough doesn't care, because it does care.

"But it's a dead issue. You are pushing on a rope with another township," Sobel said. "It's not all within Lansdale Borough."

Councilman Dan Dunigan praised DiGregorio and Hansen for bringing up the issue to committee. He said it was an issue that should be revisited.

"A dead issue is not what it is; It's stagnant," Dunigan said. "If there is no agreement with a third party, you can't go forward. The dilemma is the Montgomery Township side is lightly populated compared to where you guys live."

Dunigan recommended DiGregorio and Hansen get their residents organized and confront Montgomery Township on the issue.

"Get 10 of them and stand on their doorstep," he said. "If you get an agreement, there's a big enough budget to figure out the cost. It can't be so prohibitive."

Dunigan added that the arranged finances of Lansdale make the borough in good shape for years to come, so funding a flashing beacon won't be an issue.

"Whether it's a safety light or we help Fairmount Fire Company or help the police get the stuff they need - we'll probably be able to figure it out," he said. "You can't push a rope. See if you can get a group together and invest and go over and see what you can do."

Sobel said DiGregorio and Hansen were able to help residents get a petition together for a speeding issue on Lakeview Drive, and this is a similar case.

However, Sobel said that at a recent construction charrette at Knapp Elementary related to Knapp Road construction, no one brought up the issue of a flashing school light.

"We sat in that meeting for the road and I didn't have one person ask about the flashing light. Mr. Hansen read a letter from a resident who couldn't be there, but of the 25 or 30 in that room, not one said a word about it," Sobel said. 

Clemente said it would be great for DiGregorio and Hansen to spearhead the issue.

"Obviously, you've tried numerous times here," he said.

Clemente advised to get promises in writing.

"Rather than say the school board is on board, I suggest you get it in writing," he said. "It's a monumental effort for a small issue. It is complicated and it's not something we can make happen. If you want to get real progress, I think that's the way to go." 

In November 2011, DiGregorio brought up the issue during discussion of the budget.

At that time, Montgomery Township Manager Larry Gregan said it hasn’t been discussed with supervisors or any committees since his 18-month tenure as township manager.

“I did hear from Chief Brady last week and he advised that a councilman from Lansdale might be sending the township a letter with that request,” Gregan said in November. “It will be something I will have to present to the board and ask for their input on it. It’s always more complicated when the road is split between municipalities.”

In November, Gregan said the borough should submit a request to the township.

“If it is something Lansdale is interested in pursuing, submit a request and we will take it to the board for consideration," Gregan said in November.

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Steven Long June 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM
The school is in Lansdale Borough ... and some in Lansdale wants Montgomery Twp to pay for a light to be erected on the Montgomery Twp side of the road. Here's a novel idea ... why not offer to pay for it yourself, and ask Montgomery Twp if they will allow you to erect the lights in Montgomery? I promise, if you do that, Montgomery will not ask Lansdale to pay for lights for a school in Montgomery Twp. Oh, by the way, the language I was speaking is called, COMMON SENSE! Stop trying to get someone else to pay for your tasks.
Julianne Wylie June 20, 2012 at 11:38 PM
However, many Montgomery Township students go to the school, which is why Lansdale and North Penn are asking for help from the township. if it were a regular business, Montgomery Twp usually would help because in my 13 yr old history that is how it has worked in Montgomery Township.
Sarah February 17, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Is this why the westbound side of the road is 35mph while the eastbound is 25mph? The terrible quality of the road surface, I go 30mph westbound anyway, and i swore at one time the road was marked 25mph westbound a few hundred feet bast North Wales road. By the way, I love that the 90 degree turn road surface is grated now. It makes so much sense to me. Thank you thank you thank you. I hope this isnt an interm solution until the road gets repaved. It seems like smart engineering to me, similar to the way a highway is grated at toll booths or along left and right breakdown lanes. Before the corners were grated, living nearby I have seen 6 accidents on these corners and myself lost control on a turn at the start of a new rain. Cars throw oil from pans as they curve. At one accident bangup, I walked down to see how the folks were, and the surface of the road was a skating rink- just to walk on it. So thank you, lets keep those grated forever. I saw some talk about a comprehensive solution to fixing Knapp road summer 2012, but admit i'm not involved in local meetings. From this article, it seems the township-borouch interface here might be contriubuting to complexity, and its not jus that wer're all broke. About the crossing sign for the kids, good idea, but can someone clearly identify there is a risk that needs to be addressed? 60k for a sign. Thanks.
Tony Di Domizio February 18, 2013 at 02:00 AM
Hi Sarah - This is why the westbound side is 35 mph and the eastbound is 25 mph. And I too like the grated turns - I would've loved it more if they did it before my crash at one of them the day after Hurricane Sandy

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