Ever since her first day on the job three years ago, PS 63 Principal Diane Marino has been complaining about cars double-and triple-parking by the school causing a danger for students and their parents. But her protests had gone nowhere.
Marino said that her request for a traffic light in an intersection near the Ozone Park school has been denied by the city Department of Transportation, who concluded after a study that there were not enough accidents to warrant a traffic light. The DOT did not immediately return a request for comment on this story.
However, after a parent was hit and injured by a Jeep on 90th Street near the school on March 12, Marino attended a meeting of the 106th Precinct Community Council the next day to personally express her complaints to the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, and the members of the council.
“Every morning, every afternoon, it’s terrible,” said Marino.
Pascale said that he would personally meet with her to discuss what options are available.
Marino said that in the morning in addition to city buses and school buses clogging the streets, traffic is backed up on Sutter Avenue from the school at 90th Street, west to Bayside Cemetery at 84th Street and east to Cross Bay Boulevard — a length of about 10 blocks.
Some residents of 91st Street have complained that they are unable get off their block during the school’s dismissal time because the double parkers and cars block their driveways.
A number of local officials expressed their concern about the situation.
“I have personally visited the area and I am concerned by the significant lack of traffic control to deter speeding vehicles,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park). “School officials, parents and community leaders have been fighting for safer streets for too long and they should not have to wait for a tragic accident to get results. I recently sent a letter to the Department of Transportation urging them to take every action necessary to keep our families and children safe on their commutes to school.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) suggested another approach - looking into a street that can be closed down for 25 minutes during dismissal time noting that one of the streets closed near the school would have minimal impact on the residents but a huge impact safety-wise for the students.
“PS 63 does fit in the category where one of the side streets can be closed down, but we need the cooperation of the police department and certainly the school’s administration and others, and everybody has to cooperate,” said Addabbo.
Addabbo said he believed that his resolution was feasible.
“It’s only for the school year, it’s only for five days, it’s only for that period of time,” he added. “We shouldn’t have to react to an injury and let alone to a fatality, we should look to prevent these incidents from happening and that’s my goal.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) did not respond to a request for comment on the story.
Marino’s complaints at the council meeting appear to have brought some results.
On March 14, officers met with her to discuss her complaints, she said a few days after the meeting. They told her that there would be an increased police presence at the school in the morning and at dismissal time and promised enforcement action against the double-and triple-parkers as needed.