While it is legal for school buses to park along the perimeters of a school’s property line at any time, severalcompanies doing so overnight and on weekends in close proximity to P.S. 21 in Flushing do not appear to be winning any popularity contests with anyone in the neighborhood.
The issue was addressed last Thursday morning at the Community Board 7 district service cabinet meeting.
According to the board’s district manager, Marilyn Bitterman, complaints have been coming in from parents, the school’s principal and residents in the area about “huge buses” that they claim are having “a tremendous impact” on the community.
The school is located at 147-36 26 Ave. Bitterman said the board had already written to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the Division of Pupil Transportation, but received no response from either.
She also said that many of the bus drivers apparently live in the area, as residents have testified to seeing them park their buses near the school and walk home from there.
“They’re using the street as a garage,” Bitterman said.
A representative from the 109th Precinct Community Affairs office said after the meeting that school buses are permitted to park anywhere near a school24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Still, some say the buses are not only creating an eyesore but are adding to the neighborhood’s noise pollution, revving their engines as early as 5:30 a.m.
Sofia Ramos, owner of Kenley’s Bus Co., one of the companies involved, admitted that she began parking one of her three buses near the school in November and the other two in December, but only after she checked on the legalities involved.
“I don’t like my buses in the street,” she said. “I know there are houses around. I don’t want to make noise. I am trying the best I can to find parking not too far” from the school, in which she also works.
Ramos said that “always there was something” going on in the parking lot where she had previously parked her buses. “It was a nightmare,” she said, adding that she had to deal with vandalism and “missing things.”
She said she cannot afford to pay the $700-$800 per bus per month fee that some lots are charging.
Ramos recalled one incident in which her husband was attempting to change a light on the top of one of her buses. In order to reach it, he was standing on the roof of his car, which he had pulled alongside the bus. A police officer passed by and issued nothing more than a warning: be careful you don’t fall off.
She claimed her buses warm up “for only 10 minutes and leave. My buses are quiet.”
For a while, parking near the school seemed to pose no problems, she said. After other bus companies began parking near the school, however, the buses began to draw attention from the community.
Efforts to speak with representatives of the other bus companies and the school’s principal were unsuccessful.
Ramos’s husband, Al Scarfo, who said he is not a co-owner of the company, said, “We’re trying to work with the people. We’re trying to be reasonable. We understand how it is. We want to respect their wishes.”