The Student Government Association (SGA) at SRU is currently trying to make the area around Harmony Road safer for pedestrian and driving students by improving lighting and creating walkways.
Located at 145 Harmony Road, The Grove is one of the three large, off-campus apartment complexes that cater to SRU students’ housing needs. The apartment complex opened to SRU students during the fall 2014 semester and is comprised of 201 units housing up to 603 students. Other smaller apartment complexes near The Grove include South Rock Apartments, Campus Side Apartments and Pine Glenn Apartments.
It was brought to SGA’s attention that the area surrounding The Grove is unsafe for both pedestrians and drivers, especially at night, because of the insufficient lighting and lack of sidewalks. SGA agreed that this is a huge concern in regards to student safety and turned to the township of Slippery Rock for a solution, as Harmony Road is off-campus and not under university jurisdiction.
Jessica Johnson, SGA vice president of student affairs, attended a Slippery Rock township meeting on Sept. 14, along with SGA president, Logan Steigerwalt and SGA faculty advisor, Christine Pease-Hernandez.
“The township’s hands are basically tied by ordinances,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we can’t force them to build sidewalks.”
David Neill, Slippery Rock Township engineer, said one of the main issues is that under the township’s zoning ordinance, new apartment complexes like The Grove are require to have sidewalks and maintain them during the winter, but the other complexes were built before the ordinance was written.
“The township is aware of the problem and doing the best they can,” he said.
Pease-Hernandez said she is concerned not only as the SGA faculty advisor, but as a parent.
“I would be devastated if a student were to get hit over there,” she said.
She explained that part of the problem is that if sidewalks were built on Harmony Road, there is no clear answer as to who would clean them during the winter.
Pease-Hernandez said it is very important that all parties involved work together to create a cohesive solution.
She said everyone must be proactive about the situation and to not wait for an accident to happen.
Johnson said that she met with Rita Abent, executive director of public relations at SRU, to discuss a solution.
“The university shares the concerns of the Student Government Association about the safety risks faced by pedestrians on Harmony Road. We look forward to working with SGA and the Slippery Rock Township supervisors to explore all options for resolving these safety issues,” said Abent.
Johnson explained that SGA is currently looking into grant money to fund the project, as well as other possible solutions such as asking the township for lights and signs on Harmony Road. SGA is hoping that the township will repaint the lines on the road to define a clearer walking area for pedestrians too.
“We’re kind of working with what we have to find a solution,” Johnson said.
She said that SGA will be sending a petition for students to sign to remind the township that students care about this issue.
The long-term solution is still up for discussion, but the township has plans to make other areas surrounding the campus safer.
Neill explained the township of Slippery Rock recently received a $760,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to improve vehicular and pedestrian needs between Keister Road and Harmony Road and the opening entrance to the campus by the Advanced Technology and Science Hall (ATS).
He said the grant will be used for crosswalks, sidewalks, lighting and drainage.
“There’s a lot of open ditches through that area,” he said.
The construction is projected to happen next year.