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District compromises with Gateway parents after 8 months

GATEWAY, Fla. — They’ve been working on it for 8 months.

For 8 months, parents in Marina Bay’s Gateway community have pushed the Lee County School District to move a bus stop from Treeline Avenue to a safer location with less traffic.

For 8 months, the district has refused.

I first learned of this 4 months into the standoff. Residents said they filed a petition in November to move the bus stop to a community bus shelter built years before.

“Treeline Avenue is a busy road,” Julie Henderson told me when I first spoke to her in January.

The district turned them away once in March, but after telling their story several times, their second attempt ended in success: The district compromised and moved the stop.

India Palencia has led these efforts all these months.

“A very exciting, very exciting and relieving thing to hear,” she said, the Marina Bay community received the news, delivered by letter May 7 from the school district’s transportation review committee.

transport letter

India Palence

Letter from Lee County School District Transportation Review Committee to parents stating bus stop will be relocated.

“You were here to report and follow up on the matter. If the community hadn’t known about it, it probably would have been swept under the rug,” Palencia told me.

Another parent, Jennifer Kearns, said: “This has been a very, very long fight, longer than it should have been, but we are dealing with something very important. The safety of a child.”

The school district’s compromise with parents is for the school bus to pick up students at the 25 mph sign on Silver Ridge Boulevard, about 200 feet from Treeline Avenue. The bus then drops them off near the Marina Bay guardhouse.

When I requested an interview with the school district, they sent me this brief statement:

“The school district is temporarily moving the shutdown for the remainder of the school year so that a more permanent solution can be found.”

Rob Spicker, Lee County School District

The May 7 letter did not mention that the bus stop was “temporary,” so there are some lingering questions we need to answer.

The district told me bus stops for next year will be decided later this summer.

Marina Bay residents say they’ll be there to make sure the district follows through…and so will Gateway’s community correspondent.