The family of a Perkins teen who was fatally struck by a car while rollerblading is asking township and county planners to improve safety on local roads.
Allen Pollack fought back tears as he walked to his car Tuesday night following a Perkins trustees meeting.
"I'm 17," Pollack said as he swallowed a lump in his throat, tears welling in his eyes. "That was my only brother."
Pollack's brother, Michael Gisondi, 13, was struck by a car on the night of Sept. 28 while rollerblading with friends on Strub Road, just east of Campbell Street.
He died the following day.
Pollack was joined by his mother, Tammy Buckley, and stepfather, Darrin Stanley, as they made an impassioned plea to township trustees.
Their request: Install sidewalks and street lighting on Campbell Street and Strub Road, and reduce the speed limits on both roads.
Stanley, the boy's stepfather, told trustees he didn't know Michael was rollerblading in the dark on Strub Road, and he never would have permitted it.
There are no sidewalks on Campbell Street or Strub Road, and there's scarcely enough lighting for motorists to see pedestrians or bicyclists.
The spot where Michael was struck is about half a mile from Perkins High School, and it's a few hundred yards from his family's Campbell Street home.
"I'd like to see a bike path or something out there," Buckley said. "I see high schoolers jogging right there on Campbell Street. It's used by a lot of young people, so something really does have to be done out there."
The speed limit on both roads is 45 mph, though the short stretch of Campbell Street where Perkins High School sits is 20 mph during school hours.
Perkins trustees agreed that something needs to be done. They said Tuesday they're sending a letter to Erie County engineer Jack Farschman, requesting a traffic study on the Campbell-Strub area.
"I think after the tragedy that happened to you folks ... we really have to start working on it," township trustee Jeff Ferrell said to Michael's family.
Trustee Bill Dwelle said the township doesn't have the authority to change the speed limit on its roads, but it can request a traffic study to initiate change.
Farschman said Wednesday he hadn't heard from trustees or Michael's family, but added it wouldn't take long to conduct a traffic study.
The data could be collected inside of a week and submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation, which would have the final say on the roads' speed limits.
The installation of sidewalks could prove a much bigger battle, however, when it comes to funding.
"They'd have to take up a petition of the property owners up and down through there," Farschman said. "Ultimately, the property owners would all be assessed for it."
Farschman said that could be difficult in this economic climate, but he'd be more than willing to do his part on a traffic study.
That may be a kernel of hope for Michael's family, looking to turn a tragic accident into a catalyst for positive change.
"We're not blaming anybody," Buckley said. "Something needs to be done for other parents with children."