Cape Coral approves pilot program for hundreds of school bus stop benches

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Credit: WINK News.

The Cape Coral City Council approved a pilot program to add benches to 200 school bus stops across the city Monday night.

People felt the need to do something, anything, built picnic tables and benches to place at school bus stops. The contributions came after two hit-and-run drivers killed two little girls as they waited for the school bus. Those two drivers are still out there.

But are the tables enough to keep kids safe? While the City of Cape Coral might not pour 10 x 10 slabs and put car stoppers like one good Samaritan, they have a plan to work with the School District of Lee County and the Rotary Club to do more.

The city’s biggest concern about these wooden benches is the amount of maintenance they could require. Right now, one bench is chained to a tree and someone would have to move it at the event of a hurricane. That is why the city plans to sign off on a more sturdy bench Monday evening.

The loss of 8-year-old Layla Aiken hit particularly close to home for Jeff Hole, a grandfather of three.

“That’s your most valuable resource: our children,” Hole said. “That’s gonna be our next president, our next mayor so let’s protect them.”

But Hole did not have to say anything. Instead, he has watched the community react as parents across Cape Coral came together and built around 200 wooden picnic benches. These benches have been placed at school bus stops, including one just up the road from Hole’s home.

Hole said the benches keep children farther from the road. But he does not think it is the best solution.

If it was my money,” Hole said, “I would pour 10 x 10 slabs and put car stoppers, so I can make a little post where the kids can step inside and the car will not hit them.”

His idea is not far off the solution Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello and the rest of the city council plan to sign off on Monday evening.

“They’ve come up with a pilot program in order to put out solid recyclable plastic benches bolted to concrete pads,” Coviello said.

The city will add the benches to 200 locations throughout Cape Coral along with concrete pads that can be relocated in case the bus stop moves.

Those plastic benches come with a 20-year warranty. The concrete slabs could be removed in case the School District of Lee County decides to move bus stops around. The pilot program would begin on Aug 10. It will rely on your help.

“We’re going to get feedback from parents, bus drivers perhaps students themselves,” Coviello said.

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