The traffic situation outside St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy in Greenpoint is a safety hazard, school officials and parents say. But the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been slow to react, and now the St. Stan’s community is rallying the support of local electeds to make a change.
“It’s a dangerous situation. We would like to see traffic-calming measures put in place before, god forbid, a tragedy happens.” St. Stan’s principal Christina Cieloszczyk told the Greenpoint Gazette. “What we would like is no different than what the public schools in the area have.”
Among other things, the principal and her supporters have called for the installation of a stop sign on the corner of Newell Street and Driggs Avenue, as well as a speed bump between Diamond and Newell Streets on Driggs Avenue. Additionally, a traffic light was requested for the corner of Nassau Avenue and Newell Street.
“Our students have to cross Driggs Avenue numerous times” every day, Cieloszczyk said. “Some of them cross when they get to school or when they are leaving for the day. They also have to cross that street because our gym is in the building across the street. They also have to cross the street every time we go to church.”
An appeal was submitted to the Department of Transportation on December 8 last year, requesting traffic safety improvements on the streets surrounding St. Stan’s. The request was rejected by the DOT.
On Friday, at the behest of Assemblyman Joe Lentol, DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray took a walking tour to inspect the vicinity of the school, accompanied by the Assemblyman, Pastor Fr. Marek of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, representatives from State Senator Daniel Squadron’s and Councilmember Steve Levin’s offices, as well as parents and community members.
“I think we did an effective job of illustrating the danger at the intersection of Driggs Avenue and Newell Street as well as some of the other nearby intersections. Now it’s up to the DOT to address those concerns,” Lentol told the Greenpoint Gazette.
Principal Cieloszczyk said she hoped to receive a positive answer from the DOT before the start of the next school year.
A petition at the website change.org currently has over 130 signatures urging the DOT to improve traffic safety at St. Stan’s. Another, locally distributed petition has received close to 200 signatures, Jennifer Consolazio, the mother of a St. Stan’s student, said.
During his mayoral campaign in 2013, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his goal to reduce traffic deaths in New York City to none, a project called “Vision Zero.” In 2012, traffic-related injuries occurred every 10 seconds, and traffic-related deaths happened every 30 hours, according to data presented by the de Blasio campaign. 2014 saw 131 pedestrians killed in traffic—among the lowest yearly numbers on record, according to the Daily News. The total traffic deaths for 2014 were 269, WNYC reports.
“We can’t wait for a kid to get hit” before improving the safety around St. Stan’s, Consolazio said. “If we continue to be ignored, we are going to have to take it to the streets, gather all the people who signed the petitions, and have a real protest.”