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New School Crossing Sign Coming to Dangerous Beekman Street Within Days

By Julie Shapiro | June 12, 2012 12:54pm
Spruce Street School parents want to see more school crossing signs like this one on Beekman Street near the school.
Spruce Street School parents want to see more school crossing signs like this one on Beekman Street near the school.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

LOWER MANHATTAN — A new school crossing sign will go up on Beekman Street near the Spruce Street School within days, in response to pressure from the community, officials said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and parents and staff from the Spruce Street School have been pressing the Department of Transportation for months to improve pedestrian safety around the school, especially after a UPS worker was struck and killed by an SUV just across the street from the school in April.

At a meeting Silver hosted on Friday, DOT officials agreed to install a new school crossing sign on Beekman Street between William and Gold streets. The sign will go up by the end of this week, a DOT spokesman said Tuesday.

The DOT also plans to install additional school crossing signs in the area over the summer and will also paint school crossing messages on the pavement by the end of July, the DOT and Silver's office said.

“I am very pleased with the safety improvements on Spruce and Beekman Streets, which will help protect children, their parents and faculty of the Spruce Street School, as well as residents of the surrounding area," Silver said in a statement.

"I look forward to further improvements so that we can do more to prevent tragedies such as the recent fatal accident on Beekman Street."

While Spruce Street School Principal Nancy Harris and parents at the school were also glad to hear of the planned changes, they wished the city could have done more, and sooner.

"I'm disappointed it wasn't completed when the school opened [last fall]," said Harris, who walked along Beekman Street Tuesday morning to see if the new sign had been installed. "We have hundreds of families [and] it's a lot of traffic."

Gesturing to the intersection of Beekman and William streets, where most students cross to get to the Spruce Street School, and where cars often roll through the stop signs, Harris added, "This is problematic."

Harris also pointed out that the city just repaved Beekman Street and painted new "STOP" markings on the pavement, and she wondered why it would take until the summer to add the planned "SCHOOL X-ING."

Jemuel Ripley, whose daughter is in kindergarten at Spruce, said he wants the city to take more aggressive measures to curb speeding than to just install a few new signs.

"While I appreciate the effort to put [signs] up, it's not going to do it for us," Ripley said. "I'd like some kind of speed-reducing mechanism, like bumps."

Just down the block from the Spruce Street School, UPS worker Michael Rogalle, 58, was killed by an SUV that jumped the curb on Beekman Street April 17 and pinned Rogalle against a building. Rogalle frequently delivered packages to the school, and his death horrified the community, adding urgency to the push for new traffic-calming and safety measures on the streets surrounding the school.

Community Board 1's Youth & Education and Quality of Life committees will discuss traffic issues near the Spruce Street School at a meeting June 21 at 6:30 p.m. at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709.