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FWCS school board, disability advocate react to ABC21 sidewalk investigation

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) — New reactions Monday night, after ABC21 aired its Digging Deeper report, “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

On Sunday night, ABC21 investigated safety concerns regarding children walking to school in areas without bus service for Fort Wayne Community Schools.

We found thousands of students who must now walk to school don’t have access to sidewalks and must walk to school don’t have access to sidewalks, and must walk or bike alongside the shoulders of busy roads.

It’s a problem the city says will take $70 million and more than a decade to partially address.

Some say the city isn’t doing enough, and should fast-track plans to build sidewalks near public schools.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, boardmember Glenna Jehl told us she hopes the City will do more.

“Our school kids’s safety should be a higher priority,” said Jehl. “I would hope that the administration, especially since they have the wheel tax and other sources of revenue that they would revisit this and make the side walk issue a high priority and get to it sooner than the long range plan which is still going to be incomplete.”

FWCS boardmember Glenna Jehl speaks to ABC21 reporter at Monday night’s board meeting

School board president Julie Hollingsworth also responded sending us a statement reading in part,

“In light of your information, I will be speaking to Dr. Robinson to arrange a board work session for an update on sidewalk construction and to discuss ways we might speed up the process.”

Our report last night also showed a photo of a man in a wheelchair crossing a narrow bridge without a sidewalk near Blackhawk Middle School.

Monday night, John Guingrich, president of The League – a disability advocacy and resource center in Fort Wayne – tells us that picture left him stunned.

John Guingrich, president of The League

“I’m going, ‘Oh my gosh!'” exclaimed Guingrich. “He is in the line of traffic. That’s a very scary situation for anybody. It definitely concerns me. It concerns me when anybody has to put their life at risk just to travel from point A to point B.”

Guingrich added, if the City of Fort Wayne wants to call itself an inclusive community sidewalk are paramount.

Alexis Shear

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