Representatives of the Covenant Presbyterian Church recently announced that the back gates of the Church will now be opened by a Church staff member at 9am and will be closed at 3pm. The gates were previously opened at 7am and closed after 6pm. The Church stated that reason for changing the hours is because of an agreement that was made with the City of Fort Myers during the purchase of a piece of property which is adjacent to the south end of the Church\'s existing property. However, every Wednesday evening the Church holds Bible Classes and Fellowship Time for its members and the gates are opened at 4:30pm and are left open for the remainder of the evening.
Covenant Presbyterian Church is the home of Covenant Learning Center, a Childcare of Southwest Florida center of learning for toddlers and preschoolers, and has been for 28 years. The hours of operation for the Learning Center are 7am to 6pm. Many parents whose children attend the Learning Center utilize the entrances where the back gates are located to drop-off and pick-up their children, predominantly during the hours of 7am to 8am and 3pm to 6pm. With the back gates now closed during those drop-off and pick-up times, parents are forced to enter the Church property by the McGregor Blvd entrance.
The McGregor Blvd. entrance is very dangerous. There is a very high volume of traffic along this popular road, especially during the above-stated drop-off and pick-up times, as those are considered to be the \"rush-hour\" times of traffic. A parent is sometimes left waiting in the marked turn lane for 5-10 minutes waiting for a clearing in the traffic so he/she can enter the Church property. Waiting in the turn lane for any extended period of time on a road which is very heavily travelled is very dangerous.
Also, McGregor Blvd. is lined by very tall Royal Palm trees, which sometimes makes it very difficult to see oncoming traffic. Parents, especially those with the more popular and family-oriented larger vehicles, have expressed concern that they will be involved in a traffic accident while attempting to leave the Church property by the McGregor Blvd. entrance.
In addition to the safety reasons stated above, the use of the back entrance is a convenience. Many of the parents live or work in the neighborhood of the Learning Center and being forced to use the McGregor Blvd. entrance an inconvenience. Those parents have to fight the traffic to get onto McGregor Blvd. from one of the access streets to drive less than one block, in some cases, to the McGregor Blvd. entrance. Those parents do not drive on McGregor Blvd. long enough to reach the posted speed limit.
We, the parents, family members, faculty, and friends of Covenant Learning Center, feel that leaving the Church\'s back gates open from 7am - 6pm would create a safe end to a drive to school and a safe beginning to a drive home for the children who attend the Learning Center.
Therefore, with this petition, we request that the back gates for Covenant Presbyterian Church remain open from 7am to 6pm, the current hours of operation for the Covenant Learning Center, and the previous hours that the gates were left open.
This petition will be mailed to the City of Fort Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey by Nov. 15, 2002. If you support our efforts to provide safe drop-offs and pick-ups at the Covenant Learning Center, please add your signature below. Thank you for your support.
This petition is sponsored by the parents, family members, faculty, and friends of Covenant Learning Center.
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