Lack of bus service on Valk Rd. creating a hazard, say residents

Children board the school bus at the Valk Rd.-Route 32A intersection. (photo by David Gordon)

Children board the school bus at the Valk Rd.-Route 32A intersection. (photo by David Gordon)

A handful of parents with children stand at the intersection of Route 32A and Valk Rd., a narrow road just a stone’s throw from the Greene County border. They’re waiting for the school bus as vehicles turn into or out of the narrow space left by their cars, parked on both sides of the road. The parents have to drive their children to the intersection because the bus won’t go down Valk Rd., where they live.

It’s a dangerous situation, and it’s only a matter of time before a child is hurt if something isn’t done, said Dan Kelly, who lives on Valk Rd. Kelly doesn’t have children in school, but he was at the bus stop with his morning coffee. “On the first day of school they were very cute, the little kids running around. Most people who live here are decent [about slowing down for kids], but on Rt. 32A they come really fast,” he said. “I was hit walking my dog.”

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Seante Sullivan, a sixth-grade student, would not be taking the small bus, but she said, “there are a lot of smaller kids on this street, kindergarten and first-graders.”

Amy Sinnott, a parent, said in past years a small bus made stops on Valk Rd.

“They used to run a little bus, and that was safer,” she said. “That bus could turn around safely. You have all these trucks coming in, propane trucks. It’s a safety concern. I was told years ago that buses had to stop at a kindergartener’s house, but that isn’t happening.”

District Business Administrator Lissa Jilek said she has driven up to Valk Rd. to see the situation firsthand. School district policy requires that buses pick up students who live half a mile or more from the stop, and the students who gather at the Valk Rd./32A intersection don’t live that far away, she said. The police department is also monitoring the situation and will advise the school district on what steps may need to be taken, if any, she said.

Gail Edwards disagrees with Jilek. She owns a daycare center at around the half-mile point and said a bus has always run on Valk Rd., except recently when there were no eligible children. But she said this year there is at least one eligible child who lives beyond the half-mile point, and besides that, the district should send a bus because of the safety concern at the intersection.

“I’m not giving up,” Edwards said. “I’m a member of the Civil Service Employees’ Union and I may work through the union.” She also plans to start a petition drive to pressure the school to provide a bus.

The parents at the bus stop agreed that the community is growing. New houses are going up along Valk Rd., its two extensions and some of the side roads opening off Valk Rd., and these houses will add to the number of children. Construction trucks and propane gas trucks add to the mix of traffic on the narrow roads.

While Edwards acknowledged that Jilek had come up to observe the road, she was not there when parents and kids were gathered to wait for the bus, so she didn’t see how dangerous the situation was, she said.

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