Improving Safety at the Mountville Branch Library: A Proposal to Remove Hazardous Parking
Submitted to: The West Hempfield Township Municipal Office
Submitted by: Kristan Knarr
Submitted on: March 24, 2013
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Executive Summary There are six parking spaces at the Mountville Branch Library that, because they create
low visibility for drivers, cause a safety hazard for anyone attempting to pull their car out of the
main lot. Furthermore, due to the school being located next to the library, there are many
children and parents in cars making this dangerous turn. I am proposing that six problematic
parking spots be removed from the lot and that the library and school share parking with a
church located across the street. This proposal represents the best solution to the parking lot
problem because it can be implemented at a low cost to the township and would significantly
improve safety. Also, because the church only operates on Sundays and the school and library
never operate on Sundays, there is no potential for conflict between drivers.
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Problem: Parking at Mountville Branch Library is Hazardous
Despite the growing popularity of e-books, many people, myself included, still rely on
their local libraries to borrow books for learning, entertainment, or a variety of other purposes. I
go to my local library, the Mountville Branch of the Lancaster Library system in Mountville, PA
as frequently as once a week. In June 2011, the Mountville Branch Library moved its location to
a larger building with a better set-up for shelving books. Despite these improvements, there is
one dangerous aspect of the new location that cannot be overlooked: the parking.
There are quite a few parking spots that cause no problems, but there are six spots, as
marked on the attached map, that make turning out of the main parking lot a hazardous situation.
When cars are parked in these spaces, they eliminate all visibility to the left of the driver
attempting to pull out of the library parking lot. This is an especially urgent problem because
Dayspring Christian Academy, a private school for children (grades kindergarten through 12), is
adjacent to the library. Many parents or other family members are in and out of the library
parking lot every weekday to pick up their children from school.
Not only are adult library patrons at risk every time they pull out of the parking lot, some
young children and their parents are forced into this unsafe situation multiple times per week. In
fact, I observed the traffic in and around the library parking lot one day in February 2013 during
peak school release hours. I noted that 113 cars drove past the lot on Clay Street and 62 cars
made the dangerous turn out of the lot onto Clay Street within a 25-minute period, especially
condensed into the last ten minutes of my observation. This was just one day’s worth of
observations, but in reality, the traffic is this bad Monday through Friday, for half an hour in the
morning when students are being dropped off, as well as for half an hour in the afternoon when
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children are being picked up from school. With this many vehicles, especially many containing
young children, in one place in such a short period of time, too many community members are
jeopardizing their safety. I am addressing you, the West Hempfield Township Municipal Office,
to bring attention to this problem and to offer a solution in the hopes that this parking problem
can be fixed as soon as possible.
Solution: Remove Spots and Direct Traffic to Church Parking Lot
There are many possible solutions that you could consider to fix this dangerous parking
problem. The empty area to the right of the library could be altered to expand the library’s main
parking lot, but having the grassy area dug up and paved could cost more money than you, the
township, would like to spend. Another solution could be to place a stop sign on Clay Street so
vehicles are forced to stop and make sure no one is attempting to pull out of the library parking
lot at the same time. But with so much traffic on Clay Street, this would slow everyone down and
irritate drivers. Because each of these solutions has a major downside, I am proposing the best
possible solution—eliminate the six problematic parking spaces and consult the Mountville
Church of the Brethren, which is across the street from the Mountville Branch Library, to share
To eliminate the problematic parking spots, you could start with a short-term plan if
necessary and then work on a long-term solution when able. For the short-term, a “no parking”
sign would need to be put into the ground next to where the problematic parking spaces currently
exist. There are a variety of ways to remove the painted lines at varying costs, but the quickest
short-term fix would be to place a several large orange traffic cones where the problematic
parking spaces currently are to ensure that no one parks there. Then, it would be best for you, as
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well as the leaders of the Mountville Church of the Brethren, the Mountville Branch Library, and
the Dayspring Christian Academy to meet and come up with an agreement to share parking lots.
The long-term plan would still involve purchasing a “no parking sign” and consulting
with the Mountville Church of the Brethren to share parking with the surrounding buildings, but
when it fits into the township’s budget, the painted lines should be removed. There are many
paving companies that are willing to remove parking space lines. The business located closest to
Mountville is Axtell’s in Lancaster. Axtell’s could remove the few lines for a reasonable price.
Eventually removing the painted lines is necessary so that no one mistakes the area for a proper
Explanation of Reasons
Sharing parking with the Mountville Church of the Brethren is the best option for many
reasons. First, the church has a very large parking lot, which includes nearly one hundred parking
spaces. This would give community members using the library, as well as the parents and
guardians of students at Dayspring Christian Academy a place to park when the main library lot
is full. If overflow parking was made available, library patrons and parents would have a
guaranteed place to park and no one would have to worry about making that risky turn out of the
library lot. Additionally, since there are very few problematic parking spots to begin with,
removing them is unlikely to have a detrimental effect on community members.
Furthermore, the Mountville Branch Library’s hours and Dayspring Christian Academy’s
hours never overlap with the Mountville Church of the Brethren’s hours. Mountville Church of
the Brethren has church services every Sunday morning and all summer they have lawn concerts
nearly every Sunday evening. According to their website, these are the only services and events
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held at the church (Mountville Church 2013). The Mountville Branch Library is only open
Monday through Saturday (Mountville Branch 2012) and Dayspring Christian Academy has no
events that occur on any given Sunday (Calendar of Events 2013). This means that if library
users and the parents or families of Dayspring Christian Academy students needed to use the
church parking lot as overflow parking, they would never be taking away parking spots that are
intended for churchgoers. When I observed the traffic in and around the library parking lot, I
noticed that the church parking lot was completely empty so it would be extremely beneficial to
take advantage of those parking spots.
At this point, you must be questioning how much this could all cost. First, a state and
federally approved “no parking” sign with custom writing directing traffic to the church parking
lot can be purchased for only $33.00 (USA No Parking 2013) if you do not have a cheaper way
to obtain a similar sign. For the short-term solution, you may have access to traffic cones as
township leaders, but if not, they can be purchased from our local Lowe’s for less than $20 each
For the long-term solution, you would have to get an actual quote from a paving company
for permanent removal of the lines, but it appears that it would cost under $200 because there are
so few lines to remove.
Also, since the library and church are both non-profit organizations, I am sure that they
would be willing to share their parking lots at no cost at all. Overall, this is a much cheaper
option than digging up ground, paving, and painting in new parking spots in the empty part of
the lot and it would not clog traffic like adding a stop sign would do. Also, if you compare the
cost of removing six parking spaces and having community members park across the street, it
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unmistakably outweighs the potential damage or injury that could be done to vehicles or
community members if an accident, or several, were to occur.
As township leaders concerned with the well-being of community members, you may
also be questioning the safety of having children walk across a busy Clay Street every day to get
to their parents’ cars if they are parked in the church lot. First, my observations showed that the
parents of children younger than teenagers all walked to Dayspring Christian Academy’s door to
meet their child and then walk to their car. Secondly, there are already crosswalks painted on the
ground from the library parking lot to the church parking lot. Considering these two facts,
parents and children would always have a safe way to get across Clay Street and to get to their
cars if the parent was parked in the church lot. In addition, with the problematic parking
removed, the parents and children wanting to cross Clay Street would have better visibility and
could see any cars headed their way and could more easily avoid them. It is hard to see any
downside to eliminating the problematic parking and to confer with the Mountville Church of the
Brethren about sharing parking spaces with the Mountville Branch Library.
The elimination of six simple parking spaces may seem trivial but failure to remove them
could prove to be injurious or even fatal to community members. It is unquestionably more
appropriate to fix this problem now before anything tragic occurs, especially considering how
this is a problem that would be relatively effortless to address and resolve.
In conclusion, the problematic parking spaces at the Mountville Branch Library present a
safety hazard, in the form of low visibility, every time anyone attempts to pull out of the parking
lot. Based on my research and observations, the best way to preserve the health and safety of
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library patrons, parents, families, and students associated with Dayspring Christian Academy, as
well as anyone simply driving down Clay Street is to remove those six spots entirely and work
with the Mountville Church of the Brethren to come up with an arrangement to share parking
lots. This issue must be addressed and resolved promptly before anything life-threatening has the
opportunity to occur. I know that you are concerned about the safety of our community members
and I hope that you seriously consider my proposed solution.
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“Calendar of Events.” Dayspring Christian Academy. Dayspring Christian Academy, n.d. Web.
15 March 2013.
“Jackson Safety Brand 28” Reflexite Orange Cone.” Lowe’s. Lowe’s, n.d. Web. 18 March 2013.
“Mountville Branch.” Lancaster Public Library, Lancaster Public Library, n.d. Web. 20 March
“Mountville Church of the Brethren: Welcome!” Mountville Church of the Brethren. Mountville
Church of the Brethren, n.d. Web. 20 March 2013.
“USA No Parking Signs.” USA Traffic Signs. USA Traffic Signs, n.d.. Web. 20 March 2013.