2009-07-02 / Front Page

Town to install curbing on Watson Avenue to protect students

Parking is an ongoing problem for area businesses
By Tyler Will

By the start of the 2009-2010 academic year, Jamestown will likely have curbing on Watson Avenue to help protect children walking to the Jamestown schools. Both schools are located off of Watson Avenue, a street on which some say parents and residents drive too fast.

“That is just an ongoing problem in this town,” said Mike Tiexiera, an employee of Island Rubbish Service, a business located near the school. People drive too fast, especially when they are late for school, he said.

No student he knows of has been hit, but it has been close several times, Tiexiera said.

At a Planning Commission meeting about two weeks ago, Tiexiera said employees should be allowed to park on the north side of the street, the side most of the walking students use to get to their schools.

When parked on the north side, the parked cars shield students from motorists. Current town ordinances require employees to park on the other side of the street, where most students do not walk. “We have always done what the town has asked us,” Tiexiera said.

Tiexiera said the problem is that drivers, some of whom are parents dropping their children off, drive too fast and swerve around in the lanes of the road, which is narrow when cars are parked on one side.

“It just became more pronounced when cars swerved toward the kids,” Tiexiera said. “And we’re looking here saying, ‘This is not safe.’”

The speed limit is 25 miles per hour, but Tiexiera said people drive much faster than that.

Because the school year just ended, he said he did not think speed on Watson Avenue would be a concern for the next few months.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said that by the time the next school year starts, the town should have curbing in place, which will give the students a surface to walk on and help keep them safe from fast-moving cars.

“With the new sidewalks that are going in, there will be a formal concrete barrier that will define the walkway more permanently,” Keiser said.

The sidewalks were funded by a $250,000 grant received by the Safe Routes to School committee, a locally established special-interest group formed two summers ago. He said the larger issue of parking on Watson Avenue, which comes up occasionally because of the bakery and other vendors, will be discussed at the July 6 Town Council meeting.

“I think it has always been the belief that the street is too narrow to permit parking on both sides,” Keiser said. The SRS committee wants parking on the south side, where students do not typically walk. Keiser said the sidewalks the town is planning to build will allow students to walk safely to school.

However, the Town Council will discuss both the plan of the SRS committee and parking on the north side. The north side parking would shield students and is preferred by the commercial vendors, who want their customers to be able to park as close to the businesses as possible. “There are pros and cons to each of the proposals,” Keiser said.

The meeting to discuss parking on Watson Avenue will be held on Monday, July 6, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

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