Orlando allows private school to limit sidewalk use

Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board passed measure Tuesday, needs 2nd reading before finalized

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board met on Tuesday and passed a request made by St. James Cathedral School, putting school officials one step closer to limiting sidewalk access.

Board members heard from an attorney representing St. James Cathedral School after school leaders requested to make changes to the city’s sidewalks at the campus.

Initially, the school requested to abandon the public sidewalks along East Ridgewood Street between Hillman and Cathcart avenues over concerns of campus safety, adding that pedestrians have access to walk on school grounds.

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Attorney Greg Lee said on Tuesday that instead of getting rid of the sidewalks, which was the initial request, the school wants to act in “good faith” and have the right to lock the gates during school hours and when activities are going on during the week and weekends.

Board members spent almost two hours discussing the request and even went back to adjust one of the conditions provided by St. James Cathedral School and passed the request unanimously.

Despite the compromise, several residents from Lake Eola Heights did not agree.

“The condition as it states is that we can do this in act of faith and as I indicated, with all our communication with the association, our intent here by offering these conditions as an addendum, is that we would start with trying to see what we can do to manage this in a way that protects the school while events are taking place on campus,” Lee said.

One resident said many agree school safety is priority, but believed St. James is one of the safest schools in the downtown Orlando area and suggested no changes are needed.

“In the past 5 years, they had 58 calls for service (and) 38 were for house and business checks,” she said.

The vote on Tuesday will still have to go through a second reading by city council before it’s finalized.

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About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!