The La Grande City Council has given the school district six months to become compliant with its Central Elementary School site plan or be held in violation of the City of La Grande’s land use code.

Currently, the new elementary school is unloading and loading students on Second Street between K and H
avenues, a safe and easily accessible loading zone for students. However, the area is a public right-of-way, where city land use codes state that school buses are not allowed to load and unload students. The new school has technically been in violation of the land use codes since it opened in September.

In the school’s official site plan, the bus loading zone is near the school’s entrance. However, the school board feels that bringing buses to the front of the school would create a dangerous situation due to the heavy foot traffic. School district officials have admitted to agreeing to the site plan on the assumption that the land use code would be updated by the time the new school was completed. However, according to City Manager Robert Strope, the land use code will not be updated until sometime in 2018.

After an executive session meeting at Wednesday night’s La Grande City Council meeting, the council approved an agreement between the school district and the city “to hold harmless and indemnify,” meaning that the school district may continue to park buses on Second Street if it agrees to be solely responsible for anything that might happen when the school bus is unloading and loading the students in the public right-of-way.

Without the agreement, if an incident were to occur while the buses are loading or unloading, the city would be held partially responsible and open to a lawsuit.

The second part of the agreement stipulates that the school district must become compliant with the site plan within six months or find an alternate bus parking solution.

See complete story in Friday's Observer