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Parents to Flood 311 With Street Safety Demands After Student Killed by Car

By Leslie Albrecht | December 19, 2014 7:29am
 Parents from P.S. 230 and P.S. 130 in Kensington and Windsor Terrace say the city has ignored their requests for safety improvements.
Parents to Call 311 to Demand Street Safety Upgrades at Brooklyn Schools
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KENSINGTON — Parents from two Brooklyn schools plan to flood 311 with complaints about unsafe streets on Friday because they're fed up with the city's lack of action on the issue, PTA leaders say.

Parents at P.S. 230 and P.S. 130 on the border of Kensington and Windsor Terrace are planning the all-day call-in action just weeks after 14-year-old Mohammad Naiem Uddin was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on East Seventh Street at Caton Avenue, near P.S. 130, where he attended elementary school.

The tragedy renewed attention to the neighborhood's treacherous streets, though parents at P.S. 230 and P.S. 130 say they've been pleading with officials for more than a year to improve street safety and have gotten no results.

P.S. 230 PTA President Laurie Torres said her school submitted official requests in April asking for speed bumps, another crossing guard and signage warning drivers to slow down.

“Eight months later, nothing has happened,” Torres said. “Parents are upset. They've been ignored and we're at the point where we need to become more aggressive.”

Department of Transportation officials visited the area in late October to see the safety problems firsthand, but there has been no movement since then, Torres said. The school's next step would be to plan a rally where families will block the street and demand safety upgrades, she said.

Parents are desperate for the safety improvements in part because P.S. 230, already a large school with 1,400 kids, was recently rezoned and is expected to take in an additional 400 kids next year.

The school is split into two buildings on McDonald Avenue near Albemarle Road. The two buildings are on either side of McDonald, a truck route. Students regularly cross the busy avenue to go to the library or to the auditorium to see performances such as a recent "Nutcracker" show.

Parents at P.S. 130, at nearby Ocean Parkway and East Fifth Street, are also planning to call 311 to demand a left turn signal at Caton Avenue and Ocean Parkway and several other safety improvements.

Like P.S. 230, the school was affected by the recent rezoning. Next year its zone will grow and it will be split into two buildings, with the upper grades moving to a new school called P.S./I.S. 437 at Caton Avenue and East Seventh Street.

"We're going to have many more children here," said P.S. 130 PTA President Christine Farrell. "The pressure is on for [the city] to respond to the needs and not just leave this little corner of the neighborhood and the district out of the loop in terms of making things safer."

The NYPD, which oversees school crossing guards, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

A DOT spokesman said the agency is evaluating requests from both schools for street safety upgrades, and that the October site survey revealed potential upgrades outside both the P.S. 230 upper school and lower school buildings, including improved signage at the lower school.

Suggested safety improvements for the streets around both schools will be presented at a January meeting with residents where DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is also scheduled to discuss traffic safety concerns related to the new P.S./I.S. 437.

"I applaud her for coming here, but we'll have to wait and see what it will really translate into," Farrell said. "People want answers."

Among the parents planning to call 311 on Friday is Amy Shearn, whose 5-year-old daughter is in kindergarten at P.S. 230. Shearn has a 3-year-old son too, and she intentionally keeps him in a stroller when she walks her daughter to and from school so she doesn't have to monitor two mobile children.

“There's a crush of people and kids trying to cross a really busy street," Shearn said. "It's scary. My daughter is 5 — she runs and dances down the street. I feel like I'm having a mild panic attack every day."