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Parents worry about traffic around schools
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LATHROP – All that Donald Vandergoltz wanted to do was safely drop his grandchild off at Lathrop Elementary School.

What he saw was a circus of cars all jockeying for prime position just before school started along Fifth Street and Thomsen Road in Lathrop. The double yellow lines – which are not to be crossed – didn’t seem to register with the majority of the parents, he said.

And with the absence of crosswalks at certain locations, he fears that something bad is going to happen outside of Lathrop’s original elementary school. That is why he took his concerns before the Lathrop City Council on Monday night.

“They need something or somebody out there because one of our children is going to get killed,” Vandergoltz said.

The possibility of enforcement, however, could end up changing that.

Vandergoltz said that he was told that the Chief of Police had ordered his motorcycle officers to start writing tickets for those who violate the law when children are being picked up and dropped off at school. Lathrop Police Services Chief Eric Holman, who was present at the meeting, didn’t comment on the matter.

At their last meeting the City Council discussed the possibility of outlawing parking along Thomsen Street – a section of road that was initially flagged to be vehicle free – after complaints from neighbors raised the issue.

Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos – who said he was worried about creating an area that would be unsafe for children by opening it up for possible predators to lure or snatch kids walking home – pitched the idea of putting boulders up along the roadway to keep cars out.

Whether that would only add to the traffic problems along Fifth Street is something that the council will likely discuss when they revisit the issue at a future meeting.

Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal told Vandergoltz that he joined City Manager Cary Keaten and Public Works Director Steve Salvatore on a scouting mission to see exactly how bad things were out there, and that they have been discussing possible options.

The recent reinstatement of a 2-by-2 committee with a pair of Manteca Unified School District Trustees could end up being the avenue where a solution begins.

But the problem isn’t confined to just Lathrop Elementary.

Resident Chris Baluyut submitted a petition to the council asking for a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Boulder Avenue and Marble Street near Joseph Widmer Elementary.

The combination of motorists and children in the vicinity is a recipe that isn’t going to be good for anybody, he said, unless they have a safe place to cross.

Baluyut earned some verbal support from Santos after “begging” the council to take the matter into consideration.