LARGO -- Parents of school children who live in Ridgecrest have begged and pleaded for crossing guards to help their children crossing Ulmerton Road at 119th Street for the last six or seven years.
Their pleas fell on deaf ears. One excuse -- "too dangerous for crossing guards" -- strained the limits of irony.
Then the Largo commission held a workshop meeting at the Southwest Recreation Center in the spring and the subject was brought up there.
The Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views grabbed the idea and ran with it and finally forced action by county officials.
There will be crossing guards at 119th Street and Ulmerton next Tuesday when the kids go to their first day of school.
When county officials put on their dog and pony show at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church July 13 its ostensible purpose was to advise residents of the dangers that would come with the road construction to take place on Ulmerton Road.
Instead, residents gave officials an earfull. The officials have used every dodge at their command to avoid the simple answer of putting crossing guards at 119th Street.
That intersection with four-lane Ulmerton is no more dangerous and probably less dangerous than the intersection six-lane Clearwater-Largo Road and Eigth Avenue in Largo. Largo staffs that intersection with crossing guards and don't find it "too dangerous for the guards."
When the dangerous situation at Ulmerton and 119th Street was brought to public attention by the Gazette, Largo Police Chief Lester Aradi decided to put crossing guards there even though the site is not in Largo's jurisdiction.
Instead, Sheriff Everett Rice stepped in and put guards there, solving the problem in the last week of the school year.
The situation of obvious danger was obvious to most members of the public, but the chairwoman of the County Commission, Susan Latvala, chose to make an issue of it.
Her solution, given in an opinion piece in Pinellas County's only daily newspaper, was that the children should use the Pinellas Trail to cross Ulmerton.
This would have necessitated a walk of a quarter mile east in most cases to get to the trail and then a quarter mile back west to get to the school.
The Pinellas Trail idea was shot down July 13 with comments that the trail was not constructed for that purpose.
Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd, who was the only member of the county board to investigate the situation after the Gazette's campaign of safety for Ridgecrest kids, suggested a pedestrian overpass.
At the same time she recognized there were no funds for such a project, but said she would look into grant possibilities.
Latvala dismissed that idea with an abrupt comment about no funds.
Funds can always be found for projects that are deemed necessary, especially when the safety of children is involved. The county's recent history in foolish expenditure, notably the "Lockheed deal," demonstrates that money can be found.
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