Peters Pl. parking problems persist, neighbors say

Despite changes, residents continue to complain about school traffic

By libby kesil
Staff Writer

Peters Pl. parking problems persist, neighbors say

Despite changes, residents continue to complain about school traffic

By libby kesil

Staff Writer

RED BANK — While officials at Red Bank Catholic High School and St. James Elementary School have been working to alleviate traffic difficulties associated with morning student drop-offs and afternoon dismissals, residents of Peters Place continue to express frustration with what is happening on their street every school day.

The residents say their biggest concern is safety when buses and parents clog the street to pick up students, but there also are quality-of-life issues related to parents loitering on the street as they wait for their children.

According to St. James Principal Janet Dolan, the school has been working diligently to address the concerns of the residents.

In a written statement in response to questions about the situation, Dolan wrote, "During the last 15 months, the administration of St. James School, Red Bank Catholic High School, and town officials have striven to appease the residents of Peters Place and respect their property in regard to their bus concerns. Each day over 1,650 students attend these two schools. 1,600 students are dismissed from the buildings between 2:15 and 2:25 p.m.

"No buses picking up students are parked in front of any homes on Peters Place. All buses are in front of the schools or on the schools’ property. From the moment the buses pull away from the premises, approximately 25 buses move down Peters Place in caravan style in less than five minutes. There may occasionally be a slow-up if there is difficulty for a bus to make a left-hand turn onto Maple Avenue. The dismissal is supervised, systematic, safe and efficient."

Some residents don’t see the situation quite the same way.

"I was thankful the school did what they did, but they don’t want to hear about anything else," said one resident who requested to remain anonymous.

She said she and other residents were happy with the change in the loading and unloading of buses, which eliminated the buses parking directly in front of homes, but problems involving traffic, safety and parents continue to plague her and her neighbors residing on Peters Place and Drummond Place.

The resident said that officials at the school "walk with blinders on" and feel the school has no impact on neighboring residents.

In particular, she said, the crossing guard at Maple Avenue and Broad Street is not as effective as having a police officer there. She said cars are turning onto Peters Place from Maple, despite the presence of the traffic horse and the crossing guard.

"What they have done is one big Band-Aid," she said, referring to the crossing guard and traffic horse. "I have seen three or four accidents, probably more."

The resident said that she and her neighbors share the fear that emergency vehicles will be unable to pass through the constant bottleneck at the Maple Avenue intersection.

She said that according to St. James school and traffic safety procedures, parents are instructed to drop their children on Peters and Drummond places. This creates heavy congestion when the parents wait in their cars to pick their children up.

Those who wish to walk to and from the school must park away from these areas, but when they wait for the children to come out of the school, they hang around the house closest to the school, chatting and leaning on the fence, the resident said.

"We have asked the school to remove parents from in front of the home. It’s a constant coffee klatch. They stand out there and talk, leaning on the fence. They are obnoxious. They don’t believe that people actually live on the street," the resident said.

She said the residents of the house in question hung up a "No Loitering" sign, which has been ineffective.

"That didn’t work. The parents and kids still gathered," she said. "There is no strict enforcement on anything on the street."

"The parents are the worst," said the resident. "They speed down the street, and so do the kids who drive."

The resident said Drummond Place is currently in worse shape than Peters Place due to St. James’ policy for the drop-off and pick-up of students.

"Parents come up Drummond to pick up their kids in their vans, their SUVs. They just stop in middle of the street. Just stop. They’re designated to do that [by the school]," she said.

She said that there is a fire station on Drummond Place, and with the constant bottlenecking, there would be no way for any emergency vehicles to get through.

"When they make changes, they don’t enforce or monitor them," she said about school policy.

The resident said she and her neighbors feel that the private schools have outgrown the area but there have been no major changes to accommodate the growth.

"Why not disburse traffic? Take away the one-way. The traffic is backed up from Maple to Broad," she said.

The resident said that the one-way restriction causes confusion and is dangerous because two lanes of traffic have formed, one waiting to make a left onto Maple Avenue, and one waiting to make a right-hand turn. Once the traffic horse is removed, motorists are suddenly turning into two lanes of oncoming traffic.

"They remove the traffic horse at 2:40 p.m. Two lanes of traffic left and right now are turning. Then they take the horse away, and there is an additional 15 minutes of traffic."

"Why not put a light at Maple?" the resident suggested.

The resident said that she has called the school and spoken to officials, including Dolan, the principal of St. James, but does not feel like her complaints are being taken seriously.

"They almost seem untouchable. The principal, Janet Dolan, believes residents are not affected. They should designate a central person, a spokesperson residents can go to."

Another resident, who also did not wish to be named, said he and other residents have confronted a number of parents who have parked in front of homes on Peters Place, ignoring the "No Parking" signs. He said that he and his neighbors are extremely frustrated with the situation.

"They just yell at you, and then they don’t move. Then I call Parking and Safety, and they don’t come," he said.