While it’s not on the agenda for the Hamilton School District board meeting, the continuing controversy over access into a couple’s garage will still come front and center again Tuesday night.
Terry and Claira Conyers’ granddaughter plans to present the board with a petition signed by 3,300 people asking for a resolution to the matter.
The Mabel Lane access to the Conyers’ garage was blocked in early September after a road construction project raised the berm high enough to make their driveway impassable. The Conyers have used the road to access their secondary garage for 13 years.
After hearing from the Conyers family last month at its regular board meeting, the district presented them with a letter that said the couple would no longer be allowed to use the district road to access their garage.
It’s unclear when the board made that decision since there was no discussion about the issue at last month’s meeting.
Hamilton School Superintendent Tom Korst said Friday the Conyers have yet to provide the school district with a “formal request” that he said is required before the district can take action.
The Conyers said they’re waiting for the district to get back to them with “something in writing” about a proposal that would create a new driveway and access off the back of the garage. The proposal was dropped off at their home by a woman who apparently was an acquaintance of both their granddaughter and Korst.
“We don’t even know her name,” Claira Conyers said.
Since the Conyers did not present the district with a formal request or ask to be placed on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, they will be limited to making a presentation during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. The board will not be able to take action that night.
The district’s concerns over the garage access center around the expected increase of traffic on Mabel Lane once all the community’s elementary students are housed at the Daly Elementary next year, Korst said. Mabel Lane will be the primary entrance used by parents to drop off and pick up their students every day.
Korst expects 300 to 500 cars a day on the road, with traffic potentially continuing on the weekends and evenings for sports activities in the school’s new gymnasium.
“Right now, we have nine buses using the road two times a day,” he said. “It’s going to be far different in the future. I could see 300 to 500 vehicles a day. What we don’t know is who is going to be living there next. The next family could have four teenage kids, who are not always the most careful drivers.
“We don’t want an easement that goes through the district’s right-of-way,” Korst said. “We are here to protect the kids, parents and staff and anyone else using that area.”
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Korst said he did have a site plan drawn up and developed an estimated cost for putting in a new garage door out the other side of the Conyers' building and constructing a new driveway on the north side of the Conyers' home.
He said he reached out to the couple through a mutual acquaintance.
"Honestly, I've tried to do everything I can," Korst said. "I reached out to get something going, but it hasn't been effective."
So far, Korst said he’s not heard anything back from the Conyers.
On Friday, the Conyers said they weren’t sure what to make of the district’s proposal.
They don’t know for certain if the woman who came to their home had any direct connections with the school district. What they do know is she offered them an aerial photograph of their home that showed a red driveway along the northern edge of their property. The photograph had Korst’s phone number written in the margin.
The couple said the woman told them the district was willing to offer them $6,000 to pay for the construction.
It’s an offer both said they might be prepared to take to get the issue resolved.
“If it’s true, yes I think we might take it,” Claira Conyers said. “We don’t know if it’s true or not.”
The couple had thought the issue was settled a couple of weeks ago when the construction company built a ramp into the garage so Terry Conyers could get his restored 1957 pickup out. That was followed by the district’s letter telling them they wouldn’t be allowed access.
“Someone from the construction company told us they were supposed to take that ramp back out,” Claira Conyers said. “So far, they haven’t touched it.”
“They were just waiting for me to get my truck out,” Terry Conyers said. “I’m not moving it. Unless I see something in writing on this other proposal, then I don’t believe nothing. And I’m not signing nothing either.
“It seems like it’s such an easy deal to get settled,” he said. “I don’t know why they keep dragging it out.”