Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge board seeks safer crossing for school children

Street conditions, crossing guard shortage cited as key problems

February 5, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The roadway outside P.S. 69 often contains depressions that are putting children at risk of tripping and falling when they cross the street on their way to and from school, according to Community Board 10 leaders. DOT has repeatedly dispatched crews to the area to fill in the street. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Thousands of children are potentially in danger when they walk to schools in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights due to deteriorating roadway conditions and a shortage of school crossing guards, according to Community Board 10 officials, who are working on a transportation safety plan.

At one school, P.S. 69 (6302 Ninth Ave.), a recurring problem with street cave-ins in and around the crosswalk in the intersection is putting kids at risk of tripping and falling, Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said.

The cause of the cave-ins is a mystery, but Beckmann told the Brooklyn Eagle that it happens often enough to make people nervous. The community board wants the city to get to the bottom of it and make the necessary repairs, she said. “There has to be some underlying reason why it’s happening,” she told the Eagle.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has repeatedly filled-in the cave-ins only to see the craters develop again.

Beckmann and P.S. 69 Principal Jayne Capetanakis (who is also a community board member) recently met with officials from DOT and the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) at the intersection of Ninth Avenue and 63rd Street to take a closer look. The DEP found no underlying water issues.

Following that on-site inspection, Beckmann wrote a letter to the Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC) requesting a complete restoration of the roadway to make the area safer.

“It’s an important issue,” Beckmann said. “There are over 900 students and families who have to cross this intersection on a daily basis.”

Beckmann has a theory as to why the cave-ins are happening. “I believe the street continues to depress due to deteriorated backfill from a project that took place decades ago. Wooden sheeting was often used in trenches that surrounded sewer mains and overtime their deterioration has caused the street to collapse. I want to determine if this is the case here and if so that a capital project be assigned for its repair,” she said.

Capetankis did not return phone calls.

In another school safety issue, the community board is advocating for an increase in the number of school crossing guards assigned to schools in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

The allocation of crossing guards for schools in the Community Board 10 area is set at 30. The board would like to see at least 35. “We would really love to see 40, but we need 35 at least,” Beckmann said.

School crossing guards work under the jurisdiction of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In recent years, at least four new schools have been built in School District 20 (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst-Borough Park), yet the number of allotted slots for crossing guards has not increased.

“We have many families moving here and thousands more children are going to schools in our community,” Beckmann said.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) is also pushing for more crossing guards to be assigned.

“Our school crossing guards play an incredibly important role in the lives of children by helping them safely cross the street at key locations. Crossing guards are also role models by teaching children through their actions when and how to cross streets safely. Indeed, there are many well-qualified candidates in our community who would be honored to take on this responsibility and, to that end, I have been advocating for additional funding to hire more school crossing guards in the 43rd Council District for quite some time,” Gentile told the Eagle via email.

Laurie Windsor, president of the School District 20 Community Education Council, said the district needs more crossing guards. “We need more crossing guards, period,” she told the Eagle. “The mayor has a Vision Zero plan to eliminate fatalities on streets and here we have a simple solution to increase safety. Put more crossing guards outside schools. I don’t know why the city isn’t doing it.”

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