ENCINITAS — It’s as instant a gratification as one could get.
Having been completed just a day before the start of school at Paul Ecke Central Elementary, the new safety measures have already tripled the number of kids walking to school, according to Tasha Boerner Horvath, who helped lead the project to fruition.
The project, though, would not have happened, Horvath explained, if it weren’t for Amy Flicker.
In the middle of January 2015, Flicker, the PTA president at the time, knew it wasn’t a matter of if a child was going to get hit by a car crossing Vulcan Avenue to get to school, but whether it was “your kid or my kid.”
A year and a half later, Paul Ecke Central has already benefitted from the “drastic improvements.”
The improvements the school and the neighborhood are praising include a new median, a queuing lane, parking area, sidewalk and retaining wall along a stretch of Vulcan Avenue near the school notorious for high rates of traffic moving at high rates of speed.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Adriana Chavarin, the school’s principal, said she’s been receiving emails from residents happy to see the project in place — one in particular that read, “Your beautiful sidewalk is now causing people to walk to your school, but now they’re blocking my driveway,” she joked.
“It’s been great to do this,” Chavarin said of the project.
Still, the school has more safety measures they’d like to see in place, including intersection control at Union Street and Vulcan Avenue.
“We don’t really care how they do it — roundabout, stop sign, lights, whatever it is,” Horvath said.
She added that the item is soon to be considered by the Traffic and Public Safety Commission.
A side benefit from the project, too, is that the city installed proper drainage infrastructure, which could help prevent flooding in the area when it rains.
Encinitas Union School District Superintendent Tim Baird thanked Encinitas City Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear for the city’s partnership in getting the project finished in a very short time frame. He amounted the entire project to a lesson for students in civic engagement.
“This is an example of a project done right,” Blakespear said. “A lot of projects go on a lot longer than they should, but this one was done on time, before school started.”