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City eyes safety improvements on Court Street

October 13, 2018

KANKAKEE — Shortly after taking office last year, Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong was approached by a student who was concerned for students’ safety on East Court Street.

She promised to look into it.

One of the things needed near King Middle Grade School are beacons, which are signs with flashing lights warning drivers when schoolchildren are present, Wells-Armstrong said.

Looking for beacons, the city reached out to Aroma Park, where an elementary school closed a couple years ago.

“The mayor in Aroma Park wanted $10,000 for their beacons, which they don’t need. That is ridiculous,” Wells-Armstrong told aldermen at a budget committee meeting this week.

She said she was surprised about the price, given that Kankakee has helped Aroma Park during flooding.

In an interview, Aroma Park Mayor Brian Stump said he and Wells-Armstrong discussed the issue about a year ago.

“She told me that we should just give (the beacons) to her,” with her noting Kankakee was sitting on the liability for a sewer line that benefits Aroma Park, Stump said. “I said we weren’t just going to give them to her.”

Stump said he came up with the price after doing some research and consulting an engineer.

“It’s negotiable,” he said.

Now, Kankakee is pursuing a Safe Routes to School grant from the state Department of Transportation. The money, officials said, could pay for beacons and a center island on Court, among other things.

Students walking on Court are not only from King but also nearby Mark Twain Primary School.

“Court Street is four lanes; the children are very young,” the mayor said.

Aldermen said they were particularly concerned with traffic at Court and Orchard streets, near the House of Prayer Apostolic Church. Ideas to improve that intersection included making Orchard a one-way or barring left turns onto Court during certain times.

Aldermen agreed to discuss the issue at next week’s council meeting.

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