Proposed Scottville school parking ban would cause more traffic issues

September 22, 2023

Student pick-up at Scottville Elementary on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. The photo was taken just after school was dismissed. The Scottville Police Department has proposed that parking be prohibited on the north side of the street. School officials and the mayor are opposed to the proposal.

Proposed Scottville school parking ban would cause more traffic issues

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — During the July 24, 2023 regular meeting of the Scottville City Commission, a temporary traffic control order appeared on the agenda. Interim Scottville Police Chief Katrina Skinner was requesting that parking on the north side of Maple Street between Loomis and Gay streets be prohibited. A temporary traffic order is action taken by the city commission in lieu of passing an ordinance. Typically an ordinance change, which is more permanent, takes place later when the legal language is written out. 

This area is the primary drop off and pick up zone for Scottville Elementary, the lower elementary (grades kindergarten through second) for Mason County Central Schools. 

According to a memorandum in the July 24, 2023 city commissioners’ packet, and the minutes of that meeting, Skinner made the proposed traffic order with the intent to reduce crossing areas from the length of Maple Street to future crosswalks at the intersections of Maple and Gay streets and Maple and Loomis Streets.

The meeting minutes state: “Skinner spoke to a traffic order prohibiting parking on either side of Maple Street between Main Street and Reinberg Avenue. This is an extremely dangerous area/situation during school pick up and drop off times. Coordinating with MCC board will prove vital in both execution and success in this item.”

As a parent who has dropped off and picked up my children in that zone for the last five years, and as a person who has worked professionally in traffic safety, I can say that prohibiting parking in this area would not be a wise decision and would only cause far more traffic issues than any that already exist.   

The issue was only a presentation at the July 24 meeting and has not been discussed by the commission since. However, last Thursday, Sept. 14, city and school officials met to discuss it. MCC Superintendent Jeff Mount said he was opposed to any changes in the parking along Maple Street. Mayor Marcy Spencer has also stated that she is not in favor of the change. 

Here are the reasons I am opposed to prohibiting parking in that zone: 

  • There have been no reported accidents involving pedestrians in that zone in the last several years. 
  • As a parent who has been in that zone for the past five years, I have witnessed the drop off and pick up process. Vehicles mostly travel safely in that area. Parents typically walk their children across the street, or wait for the street to be clear if the children cross by themselves. 
  • I have never witnessed anything that would resemble a close call in that zone. 
  • What would be the alternative? While there are small parking lots on the east and west sides of the buildings, access to those lots is limited and would be a major bottle neck if used during drop off and pick up. The school buses lines up on the south side of the building, driving into the east parking area and exiting onto Gay Street, before turning west onto Maple and driving to the main campus zone. Three Ludington Mass Transit Authority buses line up on the west side of the building. 
  • A walkability study conducted last spring by Michigan State University, contracted by the City of Scottville made no recommendations to change the traffic patterns in that area. 

This area can be congested (at least congested on a small town scale). But, congestion can be a good thing in some cases. There is an approximate 20 minute period, twice a day, during the school year, when that area is filled with vehicles on both sides of the street, stretching approximately from Main Street to west of Gay Street. A narrow street causes drivers to slow down. If parking were to be prohibited on one side of the street, it would alleviate congestion and therefore allow drivers to drive faster through that area, thus making it more unsafe.

Typically traffic and parking changes are made out of a need to improve traffic or parking patterns and are presented with a solution. However, this request comes with no actual data to prove it’s necessary and no practical alternative to the change. As stated above, a walkability study by Michigan State University planning students, conducted last spring, raised no concerns over the area. 

While there already is a temporary sign that is placed in the middle of the street daily (information drivers to stop for pedestrians), it may be prudent to add some more signs. While the drivers may not actually read the sign, they surely will see it in the middle of the street and will need to slow down even more. Increased police presence in this area during the times of concern would certainly go a long way. 

More concerning than the traffic on Maple Street is the fact that drivers on North Main Street and West State Street far exceed the 30 mph speed limit and often fail to slow down in the school zones. This could be solved by an increase in police patrols and traffic stops in those areas as well. 


An editorial is a newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue. 

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