Cape Coral to cement plan for benches at bus stops

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

A city has proposed a plan to meet the crucial need for overall bus stop safety around the city where children wait to go to school. This all comes after two young girls were killed at their bus stops by hit-and-run drivers in the early months of 2019.

The City of Cape Coral, Lee County Public Schools and Cape Coral Rotary Club are close to an agreement to get 200 benches placed at bus stops across Cape Coral before the 2019-20 school year. Cape Coral City Council is expected to finalize the agreement Monday.

“We’re punching the button and ordering [$80,000] worth of benches,” said Elmer Tabor with the rotary club.

The city would be responsible for maintaining the benches, making sure there is no trash and trimming the grass. If the school district needs to change a bus stop location, the city has 10 days to move the bench. The pilot program will run the first half of next school year.

While detectives continue to work, parents and others in the community continue their push to make bus stops, like the ones where 12-year-old Alana Tamplin and 8-year-old Layla Aiken were killed, safer.

“It’s not about a picnic bench, it’s a about a safe zone,” Tabor said.

The safe zone is a portable concrete slab the benches will be anchored to. The benches are made of recycled material and cost roughly $360 each.

“We had to get an approved bench by not only the city but the school system,” Tabor said. “The one we happened to choose is school system approved throughout the United States.”

The pilot program is joining the efforts of other community groups.

“It makes me so happy because I know that we as a community are making a difference,” said Erin Diaz with Benches For Our Babes.

Benches For Our Babes helped build almost 200 benches by hand. Those have been placed at school bus stops across Lee County. While many of them have already been set of in Cape Coral, Diaz knows there are other areas in the county that need attention.

“I can probably think of 150 stops right off the top of my head in Lehigh,” Diaz said.

Tabor said if the pilot program is successful, it will likely expand to other areas in the school district.

“We’re going to let the community get involved,” Tabor said. “There’s no sense in not letting them because they really want to. Let them be a part of this and feel the home pride.”

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