MOUNT VERNON — Wednesday, Oct. 7, is National Walk to School Day and Mount Vernon will be participating in an attempt to connect with another city project called Safe Routes to School. Judy Cordle, development services manager, was in Mayor Richard Mavis’ office Friday to explain how the city was trying to connect the two.
“Safe Routes to School is an initiative to increase public awareness of opportunities to walk or bike to school,” she said. “As a part of that, we will be taking a look at the four individual schools involved in the program, to look at opportunities where we can improve those particular activities through physical improvement and through educational opportunities.
“International Walk to School Day was a way to include that as a way to raise awareness of parents and students in the community about walking to school and those opportunities, to begin the focus on the Safe Routes Program by allowing people to take a look at things that might be barriers and to give us feedback on the program.”
Mavis said the city would participate in the Walk to School Day as an opportunity to collect data from a survey given to students who participate, and their parents.
The schools involved in the Safe Routes program are Mount Vernon Middle School, Pleasant Street Elementary, Dan Emmett Elementary and East School.
Mavis reported the extended cleanup program the city offered to the community was a success. The program was held the first Saturday of the month and for a full week in May and in August this summer. The city paid half of the fee charged to residents for taking their trash to a transfer station.
“We had 260 individual drop-offs during those dates and the city spent $4,289.74,” said Mavis. “The biggest of the two full weeks we had was May 2 through May 8. During that week we spent $1,709 on 106 drops. The largest single day was June 7, when we spent $654.21 on 45 drops.”
The city, several downtown businesses and the Heritage Center Association recently met to discuss downtown parking. Mavis reported the meeting was well attended and there was much discussion, focusing on the effect parking monitoring was having on downtown business.
“The purpose of the meeting was to satisfy a concern I had, because I was receiving some phone calls and e-mails about whether or not our parking enforcement was driving business away from downtown,” Mavis explained. “Now there seems to be some concern that the enforcement wasn’t what the businesses wanted. The major concern came out about whether the on-street parking should be the same as in the lots. On-street parking has a two-hour limit and parking in the lots has a three-hour limit.
“Another concern was whether we should designate some parking spaces on the perimeter of downtown for longer parking limits. This might encourage people to come downtown and park there for longer periods of time.”
Mavis reported that parking enforcement on Public Square has been lenient during the time the Plaza Parking area was being rehabilitated.
“People who were used to parking in the parking garage all day needed some alternative,” he explained. “So ticketing was not completely eliminated. But starting Oct. 5, we will be asking our monitor to start giving warnings on Public Square if you stay more than two hours. Then, beginning Oct. 12, we will begin ticketing on Public Square again.”
In other news:
•Mavis noted there will be a downtown building tour arranged by the HCA on Oct. 3. It will be an opportunity for people to get into buildings they have walked past for years. The Woodward Opera House will be open and several other buildings will have their upper floors open. This is also a fundraiser for the HCA.
•Mavis reminded people that the city would be naming its Volunteers of the Year recipients on Oct. 2, during First Friday. The event will be held on Public Square starting at 6:30 p.m. Four winners will be named.