|Traffic Commission Endorses Plan to Ease Traffic at Herberg School |
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
01:29AM / Tuesday, May 29, 2018
|School Resource Officer David Orsi is particularly worried about children crossing Pomeroy Avenue.|
The plan calls for no parking on the non-school side of the streets.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Traffic Commission is recommending a new plan to ease congestion at Herberg Middle School.
The commission endorsed a plan on Thursday that calls for no parking on the non-school sides of Pomeroy Avenue and Marshall Street. It will also extend no parking on the school side of Pomeroy from Beverly to the school, where the road bends.
The particular focus is to avoid safety hazards of children crossing the streets during the busy times when school starts and ends.
"The most worrisome times of the year for me is in the deep winter months when it is still pretty dark in the mornings. When we have the snow banks factored in, those roads get tight," School Resource Officer David Orsi said.
"The bigger issues are parents dropping their children off, especially when they are dropping off on the other side of the road."
The request came from residents living near the school. Fred Garner lives right next to the school and puts cones out in front of his yard to keep vehicles from pulling onto and damaging the grass. Terry Kinnas lives on Cooper Parkway and he said parents will park in the area more than an hour before school lets out at times. With vehicles parked on both sides of the street, visibility for people crossing the street is limited and often drive very quickly through the area, the residents said.
Superintendent Jason McCandless said traffic is a problem at both Reid Middle School and Herberg. Ideally, he'd like to see the walking path from Williams Street be paved and used as a parent pickup and drop-off loop. That would be a longer-term solution but it also comes with a cost to the city.
"Herberg is tough. The building was built in the 1950s. I assume when that building was built there wasn't a single parent who drove their kid to school," McCandless said.
While paving is expensive, for context, McCandless said the School Committee could adopt a policy to bus more children but that comes with the larger costs of buying extra buses and employing more drivers.
McCandless said the city was able to reel in a state Safe Routes to School grant at Conte School. That essentially created a parent drop-off loop just outside of the campus. He said he'd look into that being a possible source of funding for the construction for Herberg.
It was suggested that with such a project, that could become the bus loop. But Orsi said Williams is farther from the school and would delay his response to any issues on a bus.
Nonetheless, school officials do want to encourage more parents to drop their children off on the Williams Street side and walk to the building.
Traffic around schools is an issue at many locations because of the number of parents who drop off and pick up their children. The new Taconic High School was designed to address that issue by having designated parent loops, bus loops, and parking for staff and students.
In other business, the commission agreed with Downtown Pittsfield Inc. that the hours of paid parking in the lots should match the on-street times. Currently, the lots are metered from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on-street spots are metered from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. For consistency, Downtown Pittsfield is suggesting mirroring the hours to the on-street spots. Plus, many people have figured out that parking isn't enforced in the lots from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. and from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m.
The move isn't much but it also provided a time for Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy to provide an update as to what the plans are moving forward. The City Council has been vocal that it wants meters that aren't collecting much revenue moved to areas with higher parking demand.
Turocy said that is under consideration but so are a number of other modifications.
The commissioner said the city is now updating the kiosks to 4G technology. That is hoped to address issues with some of them not working properly or slowly. He also said he's found a lot of complaints from people about not knowing what to do. For example, the first half hour is free but it isn't clear that one still as to enter a license plate number into the machine in order to avoid being ticketed.
"It is not a perfect system. We still need to make some tweaks. But overall we are happy with it," he said.
Turocy added that the city is going to do a review of the fine structure and isn't so supportive of a plan to have Wahconah Street being its own separate parking meter zone with a different cost. That area was proposed originally to have a higher price. Turocy said it would make more sense to just have two zones — on-street and off-street. At the moment, the city is not looking to expand the parking program but that will be looked at in the future.