Spending about $3 million to buy two vacant acres next to Jupiter High School would make coming and going from the 3,000-student school safer for students, parents and employees, Mayor Todd Wodraska said.
The plan, scheduled for a vote at Tuesday’s 7 p.m. town council meeting, calls for building a roundabout on the parcel on Indiantown Road at Daniels Way. Many use Daniels Way to get to and from the school.
Daniels Way would be diverted with an opening at Philadelphia Drive. That would reduce the need for u-turns onto Indiantown Road by motorists going west. Adding a traffic light with signalized crosswalks would make the area even safer, Wodraska said.
“When Jupiter High gets out, it’s a real traffic problem. You can’t put a price of student safety,” he added.
Trash and homeless people are growing problems on the tree-covered property. Stolen bikes, furniture and mattresses are dumped there, according to town records.
The property “is used mainly for undesirable activities that have an impact on the area’s safety, including drug and alcohol use and abuse. …due to the heavy vegetation, it is impossible for (town officials) to monitor the site effectively,” according to town records.
Jupiter High has about 400 student drivers and about 1,500 students are dropped off daily. The school has about 200 employees, according to the Town of Jupiter.
Along with that, about 48,000 vehicles a day travel Indiantown Road between Military Trail and Center Street, according to county records.
There have been 27 crashes since 2012 adjacent to the property, including three involving bicycles and one involving a pedestrian. Most crashes happened during peak high school traffic periods, according the town proposal.
The property, which is is twin equal-sized parcels, was bought by Storm73 llc in Dec. 2009 for $2.75 million, according to Palm Beach County records.
The town’s proposal calls for Jupiter to pay $2.8 million.
Rebel Cook, the Realtor representing the Jupiter-based property owner, declined comment.
Aldi’s grocery store submitted plans a year ago to buy the property. A one-story, 17,000-square-foot building was submitted. The company withdrew after town officials voiced objections.
Traffic was the top concern.
Along with the high school, the vacant property is walking distance from town hall, the police station, the town’s Community Center and the El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center. The property could also be used to expand the area as a “town campus,” said Wodraska.
“This could be a real game changer for the town. We have the money. We should go ahead and make the offer,” he said.