Parents have used the loop at Barlow Park to drop off children for school and bus rides for years.

   No longer. Effective today (Wednesday), the city of Ripon will not allow families to use the park as a spot to send kids off to school.

   This, however, is not a decision supported by Ripon Area School District Superintendent Mary Whitrock — though the city believed she was in favor of such a change.

   The issue came to a head at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. With recent heavy snowfalls, the city of Ripon’s policy to plow out the park loop only after completing all other plowing was leading to concerns with some local parents trying to utilize it in the mornings and afternoons. Some drivers were even getting stuck in the snow at times due to the depth.

   Whitrock copied City Administrator Lori Rich in late January on a response to one such email listing concerns. In her response, Whitrock appeared to side with the idea of closing down the park for student drop-offs and pick-ups.

   “We would ask, as we did when we met in the fall, that the city put barriers at the entrance of the park to show that it is closed,” she wrote. “We believe this will help re-educate families regarding student drop off in the winter.”

   Today, however, Whitrock clarified this comment.

   “... My suggestion was for the city to let families know the loop was not yet open after a storm by positioning a temporary barricade just until the city finished plowing streets and was able to plow the loop and have it open once again,” she said.
In fact, she is against closing the loop on a permanent basis.

   “I am not in favor of that. The drop-off location is each parent’s individual decision,” Whitrock said "... To me it makes no sense to close the loop when it has served families for so many years. It is important for parents to use safe practices. The school has added supervision and a fence to make the unofficial Barlow Park Loop drop off safer. It also will take an ongoing awareness of parents to make sure their children are safe if they choose to use Barlow Park as a drop off, just as they would monitor the safety of their children at any other time.”

Read the full story, including the city's explanation for why it closed the loop, in the Feb. 14, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.