SEA CLIFF VILLAGE BOARD VOTES TO EASE TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS ON LITTLEWORTH LANE NEXT TO SCHOOL PLAYGROUND
August 4, 2015 (Updated with correction on August 9) -- At last evening’s Village Board Conference, Mayor Bruce Kennedy and the three trustees present voted unanimously to ease the restrictions on traffic on Littleworth Lane between Carpenter Avenue and Hansen Place so that the section of street which runs between Sea Cliff School and its playground will now only be closed on school days from 7:30 am to 4 pm, and remain open at all other times. The regulation replaces one that had closed the street from 8 am to sunset 365 days a year. During Monday’s discussion it was clear that the board members believed that that restriction, which was adopted in 2009, closed the street from sunrise to sunset.
Under the new regulations adopted Monday night, the street will remain open all day on Election Day even though school will be in session. The Mayor explained that seniors need to be able to park close by to have easier access to the polls.
The issue of the street closure was raised by Mayor Kennedy and discussed for about 20 minutes before the resolution was passed.
The Mayor said that he believed that the restriction that has been in place was not only inappropriate but perhaps even illegal and that when it was passed six years ago, he was the only member of the Board to have cast a dissenting vote. “I believe it is inappropriate to eliminate access to a public street at any time,” he asserted, saying that it was his position that the street should be open at all times.
He proposed that the Village repave the street and install two raised crosswalks between the school and the playground, and that the school put in place guardrails along the sidewalk to prevent children from crossing the street at other points. “I don’t see any reason for it being closed,” he said, and added that keeping it open could make drop off and pick up of students by car run more smoothly.
Additionally the Mayor said that parents and teachers had to work together in making sure that kids are safe. "It is not just up to the government to close entire roads because there's a possibility that someone might get hit," he said, and added that there are many roads in the Village that where the same argument for closing them could be made, but that it would be inappropriate for the Village to do so.
“When school is closed, it’s a public street,” said Trustee Kevin McGilloway. “But there is a risk factor to having it open during school hours.”
“The question to consider,” said Trustee Elena Villafane, “is whether the road should be open all of the time, or only to close it when school is open.” She suggested that the road be closed only on school days - from an hour before its start to an hour after dismissal, essentially returning to the restriction that had been in place before 2009.
Trustee McGilloway agreed saying that at this point he did not believe the board should remove all restrictions on traffic, but rather take a “middle of the road” approach. “Starting off by taking smaller bites would be prudent,” he said.
Trustee Ed Lieberman asked if anyone living in that particular neighborhood had expressed opinions regarding the issue. Trustee Villafane replied that she lives in the neighborhood and that she has frequently heard friends and neighbors complain about it being a "huge imposition."
The discussion then briefly turned to the other side of Sea Cliff School. Mayor Kennedy said that he believed Franklin Avenue had also been inappropriately closed at Main Avenue, behind the school where the parking lot is located. The “school district acted unilaterally” in closing off that street, he said.
Trustee Villafane made a motion that the board close Littleworth Lane between Carpenter Avenue and Brengel Place only on school days from 7:30 am to 4 pm (except for Election Day), and that it remain open at all other times. She along with Mayor Kennedy and Trustees McGilloway and Lieberman voted “yes.” Trustee Dina Epstein was not present.
The Board then discussed a request submitted by Sea Cliff Principal Chris Zublionis that Carpenter Avenue be closed from Littleworth to Franklin Avenues from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm on a Friday this September when the school’s annual PCA Carnival is held, as has been done in past years. Mayor Kennedy said that he would not grant the permit until after he had received from Mr. Zublionis the school district’s policy concerning the consumption of alcohol at school events.
The new regulations regarding Littleworth Lane street closures will go into effect when signs indicating the change are displayed at the location - which is expected to be in about two weeks. The street will then be open 24 hours a day seven days a week until the start of school on September 1.
CORRECTION - An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Board voted on a motion to close Littleworth from Carpenter Avenue to Hansen Place on school days only from 7:30 am to 4 pm. The actual wording of the motion was to close Littleworth from Carpenter Avenue to Brengel Place (one block further west) from 7:30 am to 4 pm on school days only.
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