Jan. 9, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Skillman Avenue street crossings by P.S.11 in Woodside are a danger to the nearly 1,000 students who cross them daily, according to community leaders and parents.
Today, in front of the 54-25 Skillman Ave. school, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and parents gathered to call on the DOT to implement a series of traffic calming measures nearby. These include the installation of a traffic light at 55th Street and Skillman Avenue, and for a cross walk on 54th Street and Skillman Avenue.
“These streets, especially crossing Skillman Avenue, are a crash waiting to happen,” Van Bramer said outside the school’s main entrance this afternoon. “We cannot wait for a child to be injured or lose their life before we act.”
The demand for traffic lights and crosswalks near P.S 11 have been long called for by parents and teachers, with the school requesting that the DOT install a traffic light at 54th Street and Skillman Avenue last year. The request, according to the PTA and Van Bramer, was denied.
Further attention was brought to the issue when the school’s main entrance changed at the beginning of the school year to 54th Street and Skillman. The final straw, however, came when the DOT unveiled plans for Skillman Avenue in November that included removing one car lane in front of the school and implementing a protected bike lane by the school’s curb.
The proposed design was lambasted by parents at an emergency meeting last month, when the DOT was invited to present the design, as it did not include any traffic signals by the school. The initial proposal was also regarded as conducive to more danger by parents and teachers.
“Parents will no longer be able to pull up to the curb to drop off and pick up their child,” the PTA said in December. “Students will now have to cross a bike lane and the street.”
A town hall, organized by Van Bramer and Community Board 2 for the community to discuss the DOT’s highly contentious proposal for Skillman and 43rd Avenues, was abruptly cancelled after P.S 11’s emergency meeting that day.
“The Department of Transportation informed us today that they do not have the presentation we expected them to give tomorrow evening,” Van Bramer said on Dec. 18, when the town hall was cancelled.
With the demand for cross walks and traffic lights by the school today, Van Bramer said the town hall is postponed indefinitely.
“You can’t push forward a plan like the one they proposed while simultaneously leaving 1,000 kids behind, Van Bramer said. “The ball is in the DOT’s court.”
The Department of Transportation said they began reviewing the school’s crossings for a signal or all way stop sign in December after meeting with PS11, the PTA, the community board, and Van Bramer.
The agency added that it is working with Van Bramer and the community board to select a new date for a community meeting on the school’s crossings along with overall plans for Skillman and 43rd Avenues.
For PIX11 coverage, see below.