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Armin Jahr sidewalks to take kids off the street in Bremerton

With new sidewalks to provide a safe path to school next year, Armin Jahr Elementary School students will finally be able to get off their neighbors’ lawn – and out of the street, for that matter.

The City of Bremerton announced last week a new $216,000 grant from the Federal Highways Administration for the construction of new sidewalks around Armin Jahr Elementary, allocated to the city by the Puget Sound Regional Council. The grant requires a 13.5 percent match from the city, which will come from state gas tax money. The sidewalks, to be built after the school year ends in June and completed that summer, will run along McClain Avenue from the school to Sheridan Road and on 31st Street from the school to Robin Avenue.

“Oh man. That’s awesome,” Armin Jahr Principal Mike Sellers said Monday upon hearing the news. “I’m thrilled.”

Students walking to and from school on McClain Avenue and 31st Street either walk in the middle of the road, endangering their safety, or on residents’ lawns, frustrating neighbors.

“That isn’t real conducive to great community relations,” Sellers said. “People don’t like that kids are all over their lawn.”

Armin Jahr PTA President Jamie McMartin said she has heard from neighbors frustrated by the students in their yard and that students’ safety walking to and from school has been a concern in the neighborhood for years.

“It is really dangerous up in McClain,” she said.

The project is part of a non-motorized transportation plan drafted by the Public Works and Utilities Department in 2007. One of the plan’s goals was to identify areas where safer pathways to schools can be built.

The sidewalks will be five-foot-wide concrete walkways where there are currently three-foot-wide dirt paths or no paths at all, said Vincent Akhimie, director of Public Works and Utilities.

“It’s substandard right now,” he said.

Parents, the PTA and teachers have pushed for the updates for several years, Mayor Patty Lent said.

Though neighbors have been frustrated with the lack of sidewalks, no children have been injured in traffic, Sellers said.

“I’m glad that we did not have to wait until a child got hurt to have that happen,” he said, adding that the school frequently reminds students to stay close to the curb while walking to and from school

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