The North Shore School District Health and Safety Committee met at the administrative offices in Sea Cliff on Monday morning to discuss Littleworth Lane.
A village ordinance keeps a part of Littleworth Lane closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but not on weekends. Potential solutions have been addressed at prior meetings including extending the ordinance to seven days a week, closing it permanently, or converting the school into a campus.
“We are going to establish a joint committee of the village and the district to study what can be done,” Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo said. It would consist of eight to nine people, and would include parents, members of the village board, the village’s traffic and safety committee, and the school’s health and safety committee.
After public comment meetings of the Sea Cliff Village Board turned heated in late November, Mayor Edward Lieberman met with Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo multiple times to discuss the district’s point of view concerning the issue.
At a meeting on Dec. 4 that was open to the public, Lieberman alluded to the formation of a joint committee that would include village representatives, parents and the school to find short- and long-term solutions to the problem.
“The board doesn’t want to make a unilateral decision in regards to this issue,” Lieberman said at a Dec. 11 public comment meeting. Giarrizzo sat among parents that night to hear their concerns.
Sea Cliff Elementary Principal Dr. Christopher Zublionis stressed the importance of conducting field observations to get a sense of the situation “in real time.”
Puja Vera, of Sea Cliff, a member of the health and safety committee, suggested Littleworth close later than 7 p.m. to keep parents and children safe when the school hosts evening events.
Zublionis said that anyone who observes the “flow of dismissal” at the elementary school would conclude that there is a safety issue that needs addressing.
“Students over time are trained implicitly to treat the school as a campus,” he explained. “Students run across that road, so there is an issue when it is opened —they’re conditioned to the normal protection when it is not there.”
After the meeting Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy said he believes that a conversion to a campus would be a viable long-term solution. “The right long-term solution would be to abandon Franklin Avenue and move the playground back behind the school,” Kennedy said.
In 2001, the playground was moved from behind the school across Littleworth to its current location, and the old playground became what is now the faculty parking lot.
But abandoning Franklin Avenue, moving the playground, and converting the school into a campus would cost the district roughly $500,000.
In the short-term, Kennedy suggested that Littleworth be repaved between Hansen Place and Carpenter Avenue. Also, that raised crosswalks and guardrails be installed. These measures, he said, would redirect pedestrian traffic and slow vehicular traffic.
It would cost the village $20,000 for the milling and repaving of the road, and installation of the raised crosswalks. There would be an additional cost for signage, striping and marking of the road.
The installation of the guardrails would be the school’s responsibility.
The health and safety committee will convene in the new year to begin assembling members for the new joint committee.