Despite much of the cafeteria breaking into applause last Thursday night when the Mineola Board of Education with Glen Cove-based private school , numerous residents – most of them from Williston Park – chose to express their discontent over the arrangement prior to its approval.
One of the key issues over the lease has been the amount of buses in the area, pegged by traffic engineers to be approximately 37. Several residents called for a “dry run” to be held with how the buses would navigate the streets so that logistics could presumably be worked out before the start of school.
“Our streets aren’t great anyway, this can’t help it,” Crista Mills said asking if quality of life was taken into account in the traffic study. Mills is also the co-founder of the Cross Street Alliance, a group advocating for the conversion of the into .
Traffic engineer Harold Lutz responded by saying that the buses “did not create a significant impact,” and did not affect the quality of life residents would experience, noting the vehicles would only be present for 15 minute periods during the morning and afternoons.
The proximity of Cross Street to St. Aidan’s has been a point of contention for many residents, saying that the area is full of vehicles and when combined with the narrow streets of Williston Park, makes for a hazardous situation.
The recommended a for Solomon Schechter, beginning 20 minutes before St. Aidan’s to allow for the flow of bus traffic during arrival and dismissal times.
However, the current gap between the start time for Cross Street and St. Aidan’s is 32 minutes. Lutz said that the 20 minute gap would “still be sufficient” for dismissal and the reduced time posed a “minimal risk” in terms of safety.
“I think you can do better,” one woman said.
A St. Aidan’s mother also called for a dry run saying that her concern was about the increased bus traffic since her children walk to school each day. “When I see that, when the cars come down Cross and head west on Hillside (Avenue), please don’t send them north again on Willis because at that time, at 7:40 a.m. it’s just mayhem,” she said referring to a proposed traffic route buses would take using Winthrop on the north and Meagher Place on the south.
“I can’t understand how you would think that the area isn’t congested,” another St. Aidan’s mother who said she lived on Marcellus Road told the board questioning if any of the trustees lived near Cross Street. Trustees William Hornberger and Christine Napolitano both live in Williston Park.
Mineola Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler appeared perplexed at the purpose of conducting a dry run before the final origin points of all the students were known.
“How do you replicate a dry run when you don’t know where the children are going, where the buses are supposed to go?” Dr. Nagler asked. “So we put 26 buses there, what are we supposed to do? Say ‘two of you turn left, two of you turn right, one of you go north, one of you go south?’ That’s not replicating what actually will happen in the school; that’s why we hired an expert to tell us that.”
It was said that the district would also be reevaluating the traffic situation during the opening weeks of school to see if adjustments could be made.
With regard to a parent’s question about , the superintendent said that he had a discussion with the district’s athletic director and did not think full sharing would be feasible because “all the fields that we use, we’re going to use until after 4:35 p.m. so the availability on all the other fields are going to be pushed back even later.”
The district is planing to rehabilitate the field at the known as the in time for the 2012 season.