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Letter from Superintendent McCrossin Regarding 54th Street

posted Oct 18, 2013, 11:56 AM by Elaine Smith   [ updated Dec 16, 2015, 1:43 PM by Kevin Johnson ]

Dear Fife Community,

In the most recent editions of the Fife Free Press, there was an advertisement placed by the “Citizens for a Safer Fife” posting the names, pictures, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of all of our school board members. This ad asked citizens to contact our school board about reopening 54th Avenue East (the road adjacent to Columbia Junior High) for a variety of reasons. I’d like to respond by simply providing some facts about why 54th is closed and the steps our school district has taken to work side-by-side with the leadership of the City of Fife addressing this issue.
  • 1999 - Our district entered into an interlocal agreement with the City of Fife to build a school (Columbia Junior High) and a park to be built on what was previously known as the Dacca Family Farm. Dacca Park (as it is known now) would include a soccer field that would be located directly where 54th currently meets the railroad tracks. This original plan had the support of the district, the city, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. 

  • 2003 – In a final settlement with the city, 54th Avenue East would be closed indefinitely unless agreed upon in writing by both parties. 

  • 2005 – The interlocal agreement was amended and it was agreed that the City of Fife would design and install an underpass at their expense. In exchange for this addendum, the city via the Puyallup Tribe made a donation of $680,000 to the district to place that soccer field at a different location. That money was used to turf and upgrade the field at SLMS. (A huge positive for our Fife/Milton community.) 
As you can see above, the district has never been opposed to 54th reopening; we are simply seeking options that ensure safety for our students. Currently all of our students who reside outside of the immediate community surrounding Columbia Junior High and Dacca Park are offered bus transportation.

Click here to view the interlocal agreement between the city and the district. I am aware that the planters were removed from 54th recently and I am told by city leadership that this is to allow emergency vehicles to pass through if need be. In conversations with the city, they are in the process of conducting a traffic study of 54th and eventually plan to put together a crossing recommendation that meets both of our safety standards.

In closing, I want you to know that Fife School District is a partner in this great community. We serve children and their families in Fife, Milton, Edgewood, Tacoma, Auburn, and Federal Way. Our School Board has been very supportive of our efforts and I applaud each one of them for stepping forward to volunteer their time to help make our schools effective and safe for all of our stakeholders.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this information, please e-mail me. Trust that we are working with our city partners to find an acceptable solution. That solution may take longer than everyone wants, but by working together it can be accomplished.

John McCrossin