The town built a walkway and crosswalk at Washington Ave. last week at the high school and junior high following a request from School Board President George Heidcamp. The school district paid for materials and provided some manpower, and the town supplied the bulk of the labor.
The impetus was a comment made at the May 14 Board of Education meeting, said Heidcamp. “This gentleman said we should do something about the unsafe crossing at the high school,” he said. “I made a motion to have myself appointed to contact the town and village and try to get something done. I said this has gone on long enough.”
Heidcamp said he called Highway Superintendent Doug Myer and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Chorvas the next morning, and they arranged a meeting for the following day. Work started Friday morning, he said.
“We met in front of the school, and we were still meeting when school let out,” Heidcamp said. “I think everyone was shocked to see how the kids crossed at different points and mixed with the traffic. They were walking parallel to the traffic; it was a dangerous situation.”
The crosswalk will be moved north to set it off from the school driveway to prevent cars and pedestrians leaving the school grounds close together, Heidcamp said. Chorvas’s crew will paint a crosswalk, and by law cars will have to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. The students will be separated from the roadway as they walk into town.
Heidcamp plans to visit the other schools in the district to evaluate whether they need additional safety measures, he said.
“This will also be helpful to Greg Chorvas when we have festivals. People who park in the school’s lot will have a safe way to cross to the town fields across the road,” Heidcamp said.
The project may be eligible for a Cornell Cooperative Extension grant through the Complete Streets program, Supervisor Kelly Myers said Wednesday at a joint town-village meeting to discuss the town’s Comprehensive Plan. The crosswalk is imperative, as students cross the street when they leave school and walk down the far side of the street.
“We were there this morning [Wednesday, May 15], myself, the highway superintendent [Doug Myer], [Parks and Recreation superintendent] Greg Chorvas, [school Superintendent] Seth Turner, Mr. Averill [high school principal Thomas Averill] and we were actually planning it, watching it, doing the design,” she said. She saw the need for a crosswalk, as the students had no safely marked crossing.
Village Mayor William Murphy was not at the meeting, but Heidcamp spoke to him later, and he promised to provide whatever help the village is capable of offering, Heidcamp said.
By Monday morning, May 20, the paving of the pathway across from the school was completed, and crews worked their way up to the sports fields north of Saugerties High School. As the last section of the pathway across from the school met the existing pavement, village Department of Public Works employee Joe Zmiyarch agreed the school and village had waited a long time for the sidewalk to be paved. “I have a daughter in seventh grade, and I’m glad to see that she has a safe place to walk,” he said.