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Council approves median near schools

CITY HALL — In an effort to improve pedestrian safety for about 4,500 students, the City Council on Tuesday approved the construction of a solid median on the block of Glenwood Road that is home to Keppel Elementary School, Toll Middle School and Hoover High School.

With Councilman Dave Weaver absent, the council voted 4 to 0 to approve the construction of a closed median, which will stretch from Virginia Avenue to Concord Street, with the only opening at the mid-block crosswalk.

The 4-foot-wide median, topped with a 36-inch-high railing, would prevent illegal U-turns and jaywalking, city officials said, addressing the long-standing concerns of pedestrian safety that have lingered in the wake of Meri Nalbandyan’s death.

The 11-year-old was struck and killed by a distracted driver in the crosswalk in front of Toll Middle School in October. The driver had just dropped off her own child for school.

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In December, the City Council and Glendale Unified School District Board voted in a joint meeting to continue with the implementation of a host of traffic safety enhancements, including the median, which was set to be built this summer at a cost of about $230,000.

The two Glenwood households that will be affected by the median have protested its construction because it would cause left turns into their driveways. They also argued the median would further constrain limited street parking.

Council members and city staff acknowledged the inconveniences the households will suffer, but emphasized they felt compelled to vote in favor of child safety.

“The safety of our students in this area must outweigh the concerns of residential use,” said Councilman John Drayman. “There is no question in my mind.”

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Council members directed the city to work with the homeowners on the 700 block of Glenwood Road to provide them with some sort of permit parking on the curbs in front of their houses.

“Let’s not put them through all the red tape,” said Councilman Ara Najarian. “Let’s give them the best solution.

In addition to causing inconveniences, Glenwood resident Sirvard Akopyan, argued that the median could limit access to fire and emergency vehicles.

“There won’t be enough room for fire trucks to pass through the street,” she said.

Jano Baghdanian, the city’s traffic and transportation administrator, assured the council that the Fire Department had been consulted, and although the median would not provide “the ideal situation,” the street would still be accessible to emergency vehicles. Part of the fence would also be removable for emergency situations, he added.

A number of school district officials, including the principals for all three schools and Assistant Supt. Richard Sheehan, and several parents and residents, spoke in favor of the median, saying it was an essential part of preventing another accident.

“I know this will cause inconveniences . . . but as we make changes, we always need to remember why these changes are made,” said Keppel Principal Mary Mason, referring to Nalbandyan’s death.

Mayor Frank Quintero also spoke in favor of the district’s pedestrian safety education efforts to target the “erratic driving” of parents, whom he cited as the main offenders.

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“It’s obvious to me that it’s the very parents themselves that are the source of a lot of these issues,” he said.


 MELANIE HICKEN covers City Hall. She may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at melanie.hicken@latimes.com.


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