ALPENA -Drivers who disobey traffic regulations on the property of Alpena High School next school year can expect a citation. On Monday, Alpena Municipal Council approved a traffic control order request from the Alpena Public Schools that would allow police officers to issue tickets for traffic violations on schools grounds.
Although there was some concern among the council, after Councilman Dave Karschnick recommended the request be granted for a one-year trial period, the motion to approve the request passed 5-0.
Assistant Engineer Steve Shultz said the school reached out to the city for help in controlling violations because it didn't have any way to punish violators.
"Since it is private property they really had no way for enforcement at all," Shultz said. "They could give warnings and things, but they wanted to have some teeth in their enforcement and asked the city how they could do that, and through the council action we can do it."
Several things need to be done before tickets can be issued, however, the fixes are simple and should be in place before the first day of school.
"They need to bring some of the street signs up to standards and to meet the height requirements," Shultz said. "We reviewed the site and sold them some signs at a discounted price and they are going to put them up over the summer and they have indicated the plan is to begin when school goes back in session."
Councilman Mike Nunneley said he has some concerns about the plan. He said he is for public safety, but said he believes the current system has worked for years. He said he fears Liaison Officer Tim Marquardt's workload could be a problem if he spends too much time policing traffic at the school.
"I used to be a kid a long time ago and I just feel that sometimes we make decisions that just never get relayed to the kids and I just don't want to create an impression that the city police are cracking down on something that has never been an issue," Nunneley said. "I think there is a responsibility of the school to convey this message to the kids before they hit the streets and start getting tickets for things they have always been able to do. I feel comfortable that is is for one year. We can bring it back and look at it, and if it isn't working out we'll revisit it and if it is working, then great."
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.