Terry Conyers tests out new ramp

Terry Conyers of Hamilton tests the new ramp that was built Thursday at his home at the corner of Kurtz and Mabel lanes. For the first time in a month, the 87-year-old Conyers drove his restored 1957 Chevy pickup out of the garage. On Friday, the school district board chair hand delivered a letter telling the couple the district would not being granting access to them. 

The surprise ramp built Thursday at Terry and Claira Conyers’ home now appears something akin to a Trojan Horse.

The couple has been going back and forth with the Hamilton School District about obtaining access from their garage to Mabel Lane for nearly a month after a road construction project raised the berm high enough to make their driveway impassable.

On Thursday morning, the Conyers thought their troubles might be over when a pair of construction workers dropped by to tell them that they would be building a ramp so they could get Terry Conyers’ vintage 1957 pickup out of his garage.

Late Friday afternoon those hopes were dashed when the Hamilton School Board Chairman Patrick Hanley dropped by their home with a letter that said the district had decided it cannot allow them to access the road on school district property.

Claira Conyers said Hanley handed her the letter and said: “Have a good day.” And then he turned around and left.

Conyers said her granddaughter had called her to let her know someone from the school district was going to be dropping off a letter off, but she had no idea what it was going to say.

“We didn’t want to have to get a lawyer, but now it seems like we’re going to have to get one,” Claira Conyers said.

The school district’s letter signed by Hanley thanked the Conyers for attending a school board meeting earlier this week where the couple’s granddaughters and several others asked the board to allow the elderly couple to continue accessing the road they have used for the last 13 years to get in and out of their garage.

The board did not discuss the matter following the public comment period. It did not make any decisions.

Hanley’s letter to the couple said the “complexity of the issue” required the board’s input and approval.

The letter said the primary issue was due to the remodel at the Daly Elementary School that results in Mabel Lane changing from being a bus lane to becoming the primary entrance to the school, including the daily pick-up/drop-off lane for parents. When Washington Elementary school’s students are transferred to the Daly Campus next year, the letter said as many as 500-plus families will access the lane.

Hanley’s letter said the board is “entrusted with protecting our students and families. We take this responsibility very seriously. We must protect against any potential risk that could harm our kids.

“Therefore, we cannot allow access to a district road with a high concentration of students and kids,” the letter read.

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“Having said that, we want to be good neighbors and reach an amicable solution,” Hanley’s letter read. “As a result, we requested that Jackson Construction add a temporary ramp allowing you to remove your truck from your secondary garage.”

The letter invited the couple to attend the district’s buildings and grounds subcommittee meeting on Sept. 19 at noon at the Hamilton School District Office conference room. Hanley said the meeting would allow for a “more thorough discussion of these issues although action can only be done at the full board meeting.”

The subcommittee meeting is open to the public.

“Once again, we understand your frustration and hope we can remediate this issue in a timely manner,” Hanley’s letter ended.

Terry Conyers tested out the ramp the construction workers built Thursday by driving his truck out the garage. And then he backed his truck right back in.

At the time, the couple said they didn’t trust the school district. At the time, they didn’t know if the ramp had been built at the district’s direction or if the construction company had made the decision on its own.

Claira Conyers said traffic already backs up on Kurtz Lane when school gets out. Her neighbors complain they already get blocked in their driveways because of it.

“We just don’t go out during that time of day,” she said. “We already work our day around that traffic. We’ve been using this access for 13 years and we’ve never had any problems with it before.”

Conyers said a neighbor gave her a set of the original construction plans for the Daly School. She said it showed a lay-down in the curb for both their garage and the community garden just north of their home.

The letter from the school district wasn’t the only thing delivered to the couple on Friday. A total stranger dropped by with flowers and a note.

“I am so very sorry that you adorable couple have to deal with the inconvenience the school district has placed upon you,” the note read. “I hope and pray that everything will work out for you.

“I have driven past your beautiful home for many years when my children attended Daly and the many sports activities in the field behind your home,” the woman wrote. “You have been so patient and gracious to the hundreds of people who drive by your home every day on a regular basis.

“You two really made an impression on the community,” the note read. “As a member of this community, myself, as well as many others stand behind and support you. May God bless you both.”