First published in the August 12 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
The South Pasadena City Council voted 4-0 late last month to approve a pilot project to add a crossing guard at Huntington Drive and Marengo Avenue, near Marengo Elementary School. The project could expire at the end of this school year.
Also, a traffic study will be conducted to see if the guard position should be made permanent.
Councilman Jack Donovan was not at the meeting.
There are 10 crossing guards throughout the school district, with two at Arroyo Vista Elementary, one at South Pasadena Middle School, one at Monterey Hills Elementary and six at Marengo Elementary, said Alison Wehrle, management analyst with the South Pasadena Police Department. One of the crossing guards at Marengo splits their time at the middle school, she added.
The annual cost for an additional crossing guard will be $19,570.90 a year, Wehrle said. Currently, All City Management Services hires and manages crossing guards, while the city manages the contract with All City.
Mayor Pro Tem Jon Primuth pointed out that Huntington is a very busy street and having a crossing guard on each side would be a good idea. He also said that the San Marino Unified School District has two crossing guards on each side of Huntington.
Councilwoman Diana Mahmud said she supported having a traffic study conducted.
Also, she said she supported some options that were suggested, including the elimination of one crosswalk in the area, so the number of the pedestrians “are concentrated in one area, that would certainly enhance pedestrian visibility,” she said.
Police Chief Brian Solinsky said the police department could add enforcement with an extra officer at the intersection, which Mahmud said she thought would be better than adding another crossing guard.
“It will afford greater protection until we get an expert report on this issue,” she said.
She also suggested that officials do an outreach program with other schools in the district to see if they have similar crossing-guard concerns.
“Because it may be that the parents south of Huntington just happen to be more organized, but once the parents find out that Huntington got another school crossing guard, they will make a similar request of the City Council,” she said.
Also, she said if they vote, at this time, for an extra school crossing guard, that position “won’t be taken away. It’ll be practically impossible.”
Primuth countered that the city already has a crossing guard at that intersection, and that position will not be taken away. “We might as well do it right,” he said, “and have a safe crossing-guard corridor.”
Also, she said it may be a good idea to look at whether an additional crossing guard at South Pasadena Middle School is needed or are those students mature enough that they don’t need one.
Mayor Michael Cacciotti suggested that hiring an additional crossing guard should be handled as a pilot project. The position would end at the end of the school year and be looked at possibly as a permanent position after a traffic study is conducted.
Then, the study can be reviewed by city commissions and there will be time to look at the position more completely.
“It may be extended. It may not,” Cacciotti said. But it would come back before the City Council for final consideration, he added.