Sarasota City Commission votes to permanently close School Ave

Sarasota County

The Sarasota City Commission has voted to permanently close School Avenue.

It’s an issue that has infuriated nearby residents.

School Avenue is an important thoroughfare that cuts right through the middle of the Sarasota High School campus. Residents are not giving up their fight.

Sarasota High School students cross School Avenue every day to get from one class to another. After the Parkland shooting, security became a concern. Since last year, the road has been closed during school hours.

But this week, city commissioners voted 4 to 1 to close the road permanently.

“It’s a vital piece of the city’s traffic grid,” said Sarasota resident Mike Lasché.

Lasché says this is causing traffic backups and its a huge inconvenience to pedestrians. He feels it’s overkill.

“185 days a year the school is not in session. Summer vacation, Christmas, weekends. Now the city has lost a vital part of its roadway and this is a necessary road,” said Lasché. 

Lasché points out that this fence gives the appearance of protection but any adult could easily crawl beneath the fence, so he asks, how safe is it?

“We’re up against the school board with a $700, $800 million annual budget and legions of public relations people to make this look like its about safety when its really just a land grab,” said Lasché

“It’s a safety issue. We open that campus up every night at 10 o clock, at 6 a.m. we close it back. So essentially anyone can go anywhere on that campus, that’s a security concern,” Superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden said.

City commissioners will have one more discussion in the coming weeks and if all is approved, school officials will begin work on a more permanent barrier in the coming months. 

“Everything they’re saying is valid there. But it’s a choice that has to be made and I think in the end, the right thing to do is to close the campus,” said Dr. Bowden.

They will also upgrade sidewalks and provide an alternate path for pedestrians.

“We’re up against Goliath. It;s David versus Goliath and we’ll have to see if David’s got the spunk to fight one more time,” said Lasché

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 24 2021 08:00 am

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