by Liz Duda
Jan. 9, 2021 (Fort Mill, SC) Fort Mill residents worry about unsafe pedestrian and cycling access between the Catawba Ridge High School (CRHS) (opened 2019), adjacent Forest Creek Middle School (FCMS) (opening 2021) and two subdivisions: Waterstone at the Catawba and Pecan Ridge. One parent said, “In Pecan Ridge, we could walk to either school, but not without risking getting hit by a car or walking in dangerous unplowed grass that’s owned by York County.” Students living as near as 1/3 of a mile away should be able to walk and roll safely to school. Parent, Amy Boulris, has seen the high school cross country team running along the roadside – even without sidewalks, an advisory shoulder, or a safe natural path.
Specific needs identified include:
- Whites Road (on the left side of the FCMS blueprint below) needs a sidewalk to connect the residential areas with the schools
- In the future, safe pedestrian/rolling access will be needed to the Fort Mill Southern Bypass (where stores are being built and the area currently is not safely walkable).
Whites Road is designated a Pennies 4 Resurfacing Project (from Fort Mill Parkway to JW Wilson/Skywater, project #17228-002l). Because it was identified as a “resurfacing project” when the referendum passed, legally it cannot be modified to fund sidewalks. Resurfacing will be done this year (after middle school construction ends to avoid related traffic tearing up the road). Whites Road is owned and maintained by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
Ms. Boulris asks people to sign this “Sidewalk access to Catawba Ridge High School and Forest Creek Middle School” petition.
We, the residents of the neighborhoods on Whites Road, and the parents of students at Catawba Ridge High School and Forest Creek Middle School, respectfully request that sidewalks be completed on Whites Road between Forest Creek Middle School and the neighborhoods at the end of the road.Amy Boulris, Fort Mill resident and parent
The Rock Hill-Fort Mill-Area Transportation Study (RFATS) Policy Committee adopted a resolution in June 2020 that “planning for, funding, and incorporating sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities at all new school locations should be completed by the sponsoring agency during initial construction of the school site in order to best ensure the safety, convenience, and range of mobility choices for all system users.” RFATS is our local municipal planning organization responsible for our regional transportation plan.
The Fort Mill School District has worked towards safe access, but with mixed results. CRHS has sidewalks on the property, but one parent describes them as random with abrupt ends. Similarly, FCMS will have sidewalks around the property but will not connect to nearby neighborhoods. Many parties are involved in getting safe sidewalks, bike lanes and advisory shoulders to a new school – from agencies, to the county and municipalities, to private landowners. Both agreement, and funding, are obstacles to getting connectivity from local neighborhoods to schools.
Forest Creek Middle School Blueprint
Fort Mill Southern Bypass, with CRHS and FCMC
- Pink star: CRHS
- Green circle: CRHS football field and track
- Red star: FCMS
Relevant parties include:
- SC Department of Transportation – Owns and maintains Whites Road.
- SC Senate District 15 Representative Wes Climer – Should be advocating for safe SC Department of Transportation roads in District 15.
- York County, Planning Department and Council – Owns and maintains public property alongside Whites Road.
- York County Pennies for Progress – York County program that will resurface Whites Road in 2021, though not authorized to add sidewalks.
- Town of Fort Mill, Planning Department and Town Council
- Rock Hill-Fort Mill-Area Transportation Study (RFATS) – Our local municipal planning organization that issued the referendum requiring the school district to be responsible for planning for, funding, and incorporating sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities at all new school locations during initial construction of the school site.
- Fort Mill School District, Tommy Schmolze, EdD, Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Student Services