Gifford Woods

The Gifford Woods Homeowners Association says only residents are allowed to use its sidewalk to get to and from Gifford School, 8332 Northwestern Ave. 

CALEDONIA — Parents of students at Gifford Elementary School who found a way to avoid the school’s sometimes chaotic pick-up and drop-off system by parking in a nearby subdivision have been advised to stop.

Some Gifford School parents had been parking in the Gifford Woods subdivision located to the west of the school to drop off and pick up their children. Their kids would walk to the school, 8332 Northwestern Ave., on a sidewalk that connects the subdivision to the school grounds. But the Gifford Woods Homeowners Association recently informed the Village of Caledonia that the sidewalk is the property of the HOA and should only be used by Gifford Woods residents.

Last week, parents received a letter from Gifford Principal Bill Ticha stating: “I am respectfully asking that if you do not live in Gifford Woods, please use the pick-up and drop-off system we have in place (north side of our building.)”

According to the letter, the Gifford Woods HOA contacted Ticha last fall about parents who don’t live there who were dropping off and picking up their children in the subdivision.

At that time, Caledonia Police said they would not take any action because the parents were legally parking on a public road.

But recently, the HOA’s lawyer contacted Caledonia, informing the village that the sidewalk is private property that can only be used by subdivision residents, and Caledonia Police said the HOA is correct.

“This particular sidewalk is owned by the Gifford Woods subdivision,” said Caledonia Police Captain Brian Wall.

Wall said the sidewalk was built by the HOA on private property for Gifford students who live in the subdivision, so they don’t have to walk along Highway K to get to and from school, Wall said. The village does not maintain the sidewalk, insure it or plow it.

Because it looks like a normal sidewalk, Wall said, the Police Department has informed the HOA that it needs to install signs to let people know the sidewalk is not for public use.

Wall said the Police Department is working to educate people about the use of the sidewalk, and said officers do not plan to issue citations.

Wall said he spoke to Ticha about the situation last week, before the letters were sent home to parents.

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Caitlin Sievers covers cops, crime and the west-end communities. She's a lover of cats, dance and Harry Potter. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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