Building and construction regulations were quite different when Lake Forest East Elementary School was built in 1931. As a result, the 83-year-old school, located in Felton, was built without railings at its main entrance and exit.
Locating the funding to install those railings has been a challenge over the years, but the money was recently made available, thanks to state Rep. Jack Peterman (R-Milford).
Peterman used $7,600 from his community transportation funds to furnish the installation of railings on the main entrance and exit of the school. CTF funds are given to each legislator annually to be used to fund minor transportation and public access projects, typically in their district.
The idea of adding railings came to Peterman one day when he was paying a visit to the school.
“I was going into the school and I reached over to grab the hand railing to walk up the steps, but there was no hand railing,” Peterman said. “I said, ‘that’s not good, if one of those kids gets hurt we’ll be sorry they’re not on there.’ That’s what really drove it in my mind.”
It took about a year from the time that Peterman noticed the issue until the railings were constructed and installed.
“It’s nice to see a local politician notice a local need and take time to garner the funds to correct an issue to improve our site,” said Lake Forest East Elementary School Principal Susan Piavis.
The railings were constructed by William Steele Welding & Fabrication in Milford and were designed to be consistent with the period style of the school.
“It is an A.I. Dupont school and we have a Tudor style roof with slate roofing tile and other things that have kept with the period in which it was built,” Piavis said. “We didn’t want to add something that was too institutional looking. We wanted something that was matching with the history of the building.”
The school’s entrances are now flanked by two curved wrought iron railings that gleam with glossy black paint.
Steele designed the railings to help both adults and children make it in and out of the school safely, Piavis said. There is a higher railing for adults and a lower railing set at a comfortable height for students.
“[The students] were thrilled with it when they came back and saw they had their own size railing,” she said. “It was installed over our holiday break. Every kid touches it automatically, if they need support or not. They like anything kid sized.”
Page 2 of 2 - Peteman said was happy to help all those who enter the school.
“It really made me feel good that I could do something everybody would be able to utilize,” he said. “I had absolutely no one say that it was a bad idea. It really made me feel good to do something to help everybody.”