Bronx CB 8 Delays Vote on Play Street Where Driver Killed 8-Year-Old
Bronx Community Board 8 delayed a decision on whether to approve a play street application from the school where a motorist killed 8-year-old Rylee Ramos, when people complained that a play street at a different school would interfere with their driving.
The Riverdale Press reports that the 50th Precinct has joined P.S. 307, Horace Mann School, and St. Margaret’s of Cortona in requesting that CB 8 sign off on opening street space to kids during school days. The schools already cordon streets for children, but they want to make it official, which NYPD says is important in the event of a crash.
“By formalizing this process and enforcing it, responsibility for an accident would land squarely on the shoulders of the driver,” Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole, commanding officer of the 50th Precinct, told the Press.
In 2014 a motorist backed onto the sidewalk on Eames Place outside P.S. 307 in Kingsbridge Heights, striking 10 people and killing Ramos. Since then, according to the Press, the 50th Precinct has positioned barricades to keep motorists off the street at drop-off and dismissal times.
While Horace Mann and St. Margaret’s are applying for drop-off and dismissal play street hours, P.S. 307, which doesn’t have a playground, wants to keep one block of Eames Place open to children for the entire school day.
“We are desperate to find a place for our students to go out and to be able to run around and just have some exercise,” P.S. 307 assistant principal Debra Springsteen told the CB 8 land use committee at a meeting last month. “There’s 150 kids in the lunchroom. They’re screaming at each other in the lunchroom because they just don’t get a chance to be outside. So, that’s why we’re imploring.”
DOT requires that school play street applications be endorsed by the local precinct and community board, and the committee chose to postpone a vote on all three requests until September. “The panel said the delay would allow more time for the community to discuss the issue,” the Press reported.
Despite entreaties from NYPD and school officials, disgruntled motorists carried the day.
Local resident Martha Nochimson accused Horace Mann of “fudging the issue” of needing space for kids to play. “They are not going to play there … The school already has a gymnasium and does not need a play street.”
Nochimson and her husband Richard said allowing Horace Mann students the use of part of Tibett Avenue for two hours during school days would mess up deliveries and keep people from driving to and from residences.
But Mr. Nochimson said there is no need to restrict traffic. The “danger comes from the [school] buses” that drive too fast down the street, he said, adding that in a typical hour, only two or three cars pass through the street.
O’Toole told the Press the approval process could have been completed in time for fall, but because of the delay it will likely be January before that happens, assuming CB 8 approves the applications in October.