Watertown school officials consider consolidation

Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry Fralick discusses upcoming changes for the district, while meeting with the Times editorial board. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry Fralick discusses upcoming changes for the district, while meeting with the Times editorial board. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

The Watertown City School District Board of Education and superintendent are taking the first steps toward considering consolidation of the district’s elementary schools. [Read more…]

Officials to meet Monday to discuss Knickerbocker parking after tickets issued

Signs indicated restrictions on parking outside Knickerbocker Elementary have parents upset. Photo by Richard Moody, Watertown Daily Times.

Signs indicated restrictions on parking outside Knickerbocker Elementary have parents upset. Photo by Richard Moody, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — A number of parents picking up Knickerbocker Elementary School pupils were irritated this week when they returned to cars bearing parking tickets from city police. [Read more…]

School district urges city to solve traffic problems at Knickerbocker School

City Councilman Stephen A. Jennings is convinced that a hazardous situation exists in front of Knickerbocker Elementary School whenever parents drop off or pick up their children from school.

Traffic gets congested with vehicles stopping, children crossing Knickerbocker Drive and school buses entering and leaving school property along the narrow two-way street, he said.

“It’s a hazard every morning and afternoon,” Mr. Jennings said.

At the request of Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry N. Fralick, the City Council informally agreed Monday night to have the city Engineering Office conduct a traffic study of the area. The school district would like the city either to make Knickerbocker Drive a one-way street or determine whether establishing a one-way private road on school property would be a better solution.

Though the concerns are not new, school officials met about two weeks ago to discuss the situation with representatives from the city. Mr. Jennings, whose children attend the school for children in kindergarten through fourth grade, was asked to participate after a school board member approached him to ask if the city would look into the matter,

City Public Works Superintendent Eugene P. Hayes recalled that the city studied the issue in 2006, but a single resident in that neighborhood complained it would be inconvenient for neighbors if the street were made a one-way road. Nothing happened after that, he said.

Much of the problem is caused by the narrow width of the street and so much vehicular and pedestrian traffic coming all at once, Mr. Hayes said.

On Monday night, the other council members were surprised to hear that the issue was coming up again. They also did not realize that City Manager Sharon A. Addison, interim City Engineer Justin Wood, Mr. Hayes and Mr. Jennings met with the school board’s Public Relation/Transportation Committee about it.

But parents started approaching Mr. Jennings about the traffic congestion as soon as he was elected last fall, he told council members.

He said he has heard that children have actually been hit by vehicles, but fortunately not injured because the vehicles were moving slowly, he said.

“Children run out in front of cars,” he said.

School officials indicated they want to work with the city on solving the problem, Mr. Hayes said. But council members expressed concerns about getting too involved in the issue when neighbors may end up not wanting Knickerbocker Drive turned into a one-way street.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham also warned it could be an expensive project if the city has to turn Knickerbocker Drive into a one-way street. He also stressed the city Planning Board would have to get involved and neighbors must have a say.

Ultimately, it would be a City Council decision, he said.

“For most of us, it’s a problem only because we get a letter,” he said.

The letter was sent from Mr. Fralick to the city on the advice of city staff. He was told to make a formal request for the city to look into the matter, Mr. Hayes said.

 

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer