Clemmons pushes for solution to school traffic in retreat: Next school year could see changes without finding resolutions to problem

Published 12:10 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

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CLEMMONS — A constant theme in recent years during Clemmons Village Council meetings has been addressing school traffic and how to make things better and safer along the increasingly crowded roadways.

So, it was no surprise the topic was prominent on the agenda for last Monday’s special meeting/retreat held at the Winston-Salem Foundation.

Looking back to a council meeting last July leading into the current 2023-24 school year, Michelle Barson provided an update about an impasse due to a lack of communications from the wide circle of those involved in seeking a solution.

“Any of the physical improvements we hoped to achieve before the beginning of the school year would not be feasible at this time,” Barson said. “There are some procedural pieces that we believe we can implement, and we’re going to continue to work with staff, and staff will continue to work with the school board staff in the different schools – staff at Clemmons Elementary and West Forsyth High School – and see what we can achieve for the beginning of this school year.”

Now, with that current school year well into the second half, school traffic was again among the top updates at the retreat, which was held in place of last Monday night’s regular meeting. (The retreat was originally scheduled to run two days, but with a lighter schedule on Day 2, it was agreed to move one agenda item to the next regular council meeting and condense the retreat to one day.)

Village Manager Mike Gunnell presented information to the council, according to the draft minutes, advising that the village has been working on the problem of school traffic at West Forsyth and Clemmons Elementary for about two years  – trying to come up with resolutions to the stacking problems on Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Stadium Drive. 

Gunnell explained that he and Amy Flyte, assistant manager, recently met with both principals and told them there has been no progress toward a resolution and the village’s deputies have been managing the traffic for the past two years, but without reaching a collaboration plan, this arrangement will stop this fall. 

He continued that the schools will need to put a plan in place to rectify these issues and that each principal has been presented with a plan (utilization of cones, changing drop-off and pick-up locations, relocating bus lot, etc.) in hopes that they have shared other staff members and the school board to implement. 

Further, the meeting was followed up with a letter explaining what would take place in the fall (ticketing will occur for stacking on these roads as it is state law and, if need be, Bingham Avenue could be made one-way to prevent the stacking on Stadium Drive). 

Gunnell added that both principals understand the problem and do not have a problem with changing, but the next step is implementation with funding appearing to be the hold-up with the schools as there are some paving/curb issues to be done. 

He also spoke with NCDOT about placing additional signage (no stopping/stacking on street) along Lewisville-Clemmons Road and they are fine in doing so. NCDOT also has a competitive process where they will spend money on improvements to the school site to improve problems. Gunnell said that the plan at West Forsyth has been sent to school officials for initial review and to be run through the process, realizing that the main issue is not knowing the timing for this type of funding but understanding the quickest resolution would be fall 2025. 

Council consensus was to direct Gunnell to speak with Forsyth Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jody Chatham and let the N.C. Highway Patrol know of the situation and inform the principals of West Forsyth and Clemmons Elementary of the coming changes (messaging to start now at West Forsyth with changes to begin following this upcoming spring break with summer break being used to make any tweaks; Clemmons Elementary will follow this fall).

In other highlights from last Monday’s retreat, the council:

  • Heard from Flyte, the assistant manager, in the MPO projects overview, about a possible traffic light at Holder Road, stating that NCDOT has always been lukewarm about this project – supporting it but having concerns about the close proximity of the traffic light at Marty Lane. A meeting was held to revise the project scope as there are many utility conflicts to just do design and rights-of-way after receiving $250,000. If the other side of Lewisville-Clemmons Road was to be developed, the construction and the remaining utilities would be the responsibility of the developer. The $250K would make it more of a shovel-ready project.
  • Heard an update from Public Works Director Steve Gearren, who said that leaf collection went extremely well this year. Regarding the solid waste and recycling contract, Gearren said that bids have been provided and clarified  that “residential only” is trash and recycling collection for single-family homes and condominiums (dumpsters) and “all services” includes compactors, eRecycle and two bulk pickups, adding that the recycle charge has almost doubled. Staff recommends Waste Management for continuity.
  • Approved to establish a state appropriation grant project ordinance for a capital acquisition of $4.8 million from the 2023 state budget and that these funds may be used for any expenditure allowed by general statute.