The Lakeville City Council has created a task force to address concerns about road safety near the city's schools.
The nine-member collaborative task force, proposed by Mayor Matt Little, will include Council Members Bart Davis and Colleen LaBeau, Lakeville school board members Judy Keliher and Jim Skelly, two citizens and Dakota County Commissioner Paul Krause of Lakeville.
Because two schools in Lakeville are actually part of the Farmington and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan districts, a board member from each district will also be included.
The school board passed resolutions stating their concern with safety on County Road 50 and Dodd Boulevard in July and January, respectively, calling for the city and county to move up planned improvements on each road in their Capital Improvement Plans (CIPs).
But a major reason for starting the task force now — and the impetus behind the board's quick action in passing the Dodd Boulevard resolution — was the December death of Lakeville North junior Alyssa Ettl in an accident on Dodd Boulevard, Little said.
"But this discussion is long overdue with the number of complaints we've received about Dodd and other roads," he said.
The group will begin meeting in mid- to late March and will start by discussing specific roads and prioritizing projects.
After setting priorities, it will begin talking about how to address pedestrian safety and other issues, Little said.
"It's kind of been a long time coming, in my opinion," Little said. "I think it's going to make each group think differently about what our priorities are and how we're going to accomplish them."
He said that the City Council often receives complaints about safety on many roads, including major thoroughfares like Dodd Boulevard and County Road 50. Other roads, such 210th Street and 165th Street, have more recently become sources of concern because of access issues and pedestrian safety.
The task force will allow all parties to work together to "create a document that will last five to ten years," Little said, rather than each creating their own agendas, discussing the others' efforts and never really changing anything, he said.
Skelly, one of the Lakeville board members on the task force, predicted the biggest discussion point will be whether to prioritize improvements on County Road 50 or Dodd Boulevard. "That's what the task force comes down to," he said.
"Everybody's just trying to do the best job they can with the resources they have," he added. "But … they don't have the resources to do [both of] these projects, otherwise they would."