The consensus among parents, crossing guards, Principal Frank Galligan and Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur is that Warwick Neck School drop off and pickups are safer now that the city has widened the …
The consensus among parents, crossing guards, Principal Frank Galligan and Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur is that Warwick Neck School drop off and pickups are safer now that the city has widened the road at Lenox and Rocky Point Avenues to provide an extra half lane of travel and a sidewalk.
But it’s not as simple as that.
Galligan, a cup of coffee in his hand and wearing casuals because Friday was a dress down day, stood watch at the Rocky Point drop off with Ladouceur and crossing guard Julie Peters. Friday was the second day since the city went ahead and widened the road for a drop off. A variety of safety improvements had been suggested, including a sidewalk the length of Rocky Point Avenue from Warwick Neck to Palmer Avenue or widening Lenox Avenue and building a turnaround in the back of the school.
Mayor Frank Picozzi and school and city officials witnessed the drop off and pickups on more than one occasion with some concluding the conditions at Warwick Neck School were no worse or even better than at some other elementary schools. That outraged Ladouceur who questioned why authorities would not address unsafe conditions at every school. However, the councilman remained focused on Warwick Neck, because “they’re my constituents.”
Picozzi pressed to have the drop off and pick up widened before winter weather sets in and snow would further constrict traffic and heighten safety concerns. The work is not completely finished. Rocky Point Avenue will be stripped at Lenox Avenue to clearly mark a drop off and pickup. Additional no parking signs are also planned.
Even with the improvements, conditions are less than ideal.
“Parents aren’t following the rules,” says Galligan. Kids are still being let out of cars on the driver side and into the line of traffic, parents are doing U-turns on Rocky Point Avenue and they’re parking where they shouldn’t. He urged people to call police when they spot violations. And he and Ladouceur told of one mother who was warned not to park where it is posted. She did so anyway, was ticketed and returned that afternoon for the pickup and parked in the same place again. She was ticketed again.
Ladouceur doesn’t think the woman will be so glib about complying with the law when she comes face-to-face with Municipal Court Justice Kelly McElroy.
“She’s not going to stand for it,” he said of the judge.
Contributing to the issue is the practice of parents walking their children to the school and staying on location until the bell rings and often lingering to chat and have their coffee with other parents. Galligan calls it part of the “school culture” that builds community. He calls the routine both a positive and a negative, a negative since vehicles are parked along Rocky Point Avenue constricting later arrivals looking to drop their kids off.
School safety and security officer Daniel Maggiacomo agrees there is “an element of human behavior that has caused some of the traffic concerns.” He feels we’ll know if the widening and signage is an improvement if people follow the rules.
While not directly impacted, Robyn DeFelice, Warwick Neck Avenue crossing guard, said things appear to be running smoother since the improvements to Rocky Point Avenue. That entrance to the school wraps around the front of the building enabling parental and bus drops offs.
Ladouceur is pleased with how that works but has concerns with the Lenox Avenue sidewalk. He noted that the School Department responded immediately to a broken section of sidewalk with holes that posed a hazard. He and DeFelice walked the section Friday, agreeing the walk and curbing could use some more work and trimming of brush and trees would be an improvement.
And speaking of trimming, Ladouceur favors trimming bushes on the west side of the Lenox Avenue entrance to the back of the school to give parents a clear view of the school yard and their kids. Galligan said some parents preferred the bushes as they partially hid the school from the street.
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