Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur doesn’t want to be in the position of saying “I told you so” when a student is injured while getting dropped off or picked up from the Rocky Point …
Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur doesn’t want to be in the position of saying “I told you so” when a student is injured while getting dropped off or picked up from the Rocky Point Avenue entrance to Warwick Neck School.
“I have no intent of backing down. I’m not standing back to see what happens,” Ladouceur said on Saturday Nov. 4 after weeks of witnessing kids being dropped off before the school bell rings. Many parents park on the north side of the road to walk their kids to the school which is about a block away, thereby restricting the travel lane with kids and students walking in the road.
The situation has become heated in the last week with a package of nails being strewn along Lauren Court, which is across the street from the school entrance. On Tuesday Nov. 7, Mayor Frank Picozzi disclosed that the city will proceed with a widening of Rocky Point Avenue at the entrance, with a sidewalk being built in front of two houses before the snow flies. He said Ladouceur is “exaggerating” the situation and conditions at Oakland Beach and Wyman Schools are worse. Oakland Beach is operating out of the former Gorton Junior High School this year while the school undergoes renovations.
The mayor said he has never received complaints about pick-ups and drop-offs at Warwick Neck School until he solicited feedback from parents. He said he received four emails that focused on the recently posted no park areas.
Crossing guard Julie Peters is posted at the rear entrance to Warwick Neck. She knows the parents and the students, yet she says there are instances when her efforts to provide safety are disregarded, especially from motorists looking to get though the area and the confusion.
Kenneth Picozzi used to drop his granddaughter off at the school, but now puts her on the bus. He said he’s talked to his brother, the mayor, about conditions and believes making the road one way for two hours on school days would improve safety.
“It’s a nightmare over there. The quickest and easiest thing is to make it one way,” he said.
Mayor Picozzi thinks a one way would result in long lines and long detours a couple of miles out of the way. “It would make it worse,” he said.
Ladouceur introduced a resolution at Monday’s Council meeting calling for the study of a sidewalk from the Warwick Neck Avenue intersection of Rocky Point Avenue to Palmer Avenue. The councilman is also pushing for a survey of the school property in an effort to determine if there is sufficient city property to create a drop off and pickup loop at the back of the school similar to the one at Lenox Avenue at the front of the elementary school.
“The city doesn’t know what it owns over there,” Ladouceur said.
Ladouceur said it has been two years since he submitted a request for the survey. He said in meetings with members of the school administration, including school Principal Frank Galligan and police, that the concept had merit, but the survey hasn’t been performed. That’s not to say nothing has been done.
In an email response to questions, Police Chief Col. Bradford Connor wrote: “It is my understanding from speaking with the administration that the city has plans on widening the roadway. Additionally, more “No Parking” signs have been placed in the area. We have been in continuing communication with the Warwick Neck School Admin as well as the School Safety Director. Collectively, we will continue to monitor the situation but do not see a major issue at this time.”
Ladouceur has had text exchanges with Mayor Picozzi over conditions and he’s rankled by observations that conditions at Rocky Point Avenue are no worse than some other schools. From his perspective, that makes it no less important. He asks that if hazardous conditions are present, why aren’t they corrected?
In an email, Principal Galligan said he and multiple members of the administration, including School Safety Officer Daniel Maggiacomo, visited the area.
“We have all yet to see what the councilman is describing, but I know a few nearby neighbors are not appreciative of school traffic and parking during the student arrival and pick up times,” Galligan wrote.
He continues, “I have fielded safety concerns from school parents about both Rocky Point Ave and Warwick Neck Avenue, but these mostly occur when people are completely disregarding speed or parking regulations. When people disregard local laws or procedures, I feel it is a safety concern in any area of the city. In these cases, I always advise people expressing concern to contact the police, since any safety measures or modifications enacted by officials are useless if people don’t willingly abide by the rules on any given day.”
Connor points out, “every elementary school has its own unique concerns during drop-off and pick-up times. While we attempt to make each area as pedestrian friendly as possible using equipment and existing infrastructure, it is ultimately up to those picking up or dropping off their children to exercise due caution and obey signage and rules of the road.”
Ladouceur contends that widening Rocky Point Avenue is not going to solve the problem.
“It’s a very dangerous situation,” Ladouceur said, observing that despite a parent’s warning, kids will jump out of a car without looking and run into the travel lane.
He says the condition has existed since Patricia Cousineau, who is now director of elementary schools, was principal at Warwick Neck.
Ladouceur doesn’t have issues with drop-off and pick-up conditions at other schools in the ward –Sherman, St. Kevin and Bishop Hendricken High School.
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