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Amityville to keep East Lake Drive gate open for school buses

Buses depart Amityville Memorial High School by way

Buses depart Amityville Memorial High School by way of East Lake Drive in Amityville on Sept. 13. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Amityville Village board of trustees on Monday night voted unanimously to continue to keep open a long-closed street gate so buses can exit from Amityville Memorial High School.

In September the board granted the school permission to open the gate on East Lake Drive on a one-month trial basis after a large-scale construction project forced the closure of the school's Bayview Avenue egress. With all of the school's buses going through the busy Merrick Road opening, hazardous conditions had emerged, according to the school district.

Under the agreement, planters and removable bollards on East Lake Drive that form a dead end were removed for the buses to exit the school. East and West Lake drives form a loop around Avon Lake, with dead ends on either side of the school gate. The village allowed the gate to be temporarily opened each morning and afternoon during 30-minute intervals.

The gate will now remain open for the foreseeable future, with the construction expected to last two years. Village Police Chief Glenn Slack said a representative from the state Department of Transportation has assured him that an additional traffic light will be placed near the school on Merrick Road in six to seven months.

Local residents have complained about the buses, citing a disruption to the quiet nature of the neighborhood. Slack said police have issued summonses recently to students who were parking and speeding in the area.

On Monday before the vote, trustee Nick LaLota said neighbors have had a "significant departure from the quality of life to which they've become accustomed" in the past decade since the dead ends were created.

"It's a tough balance to strike between the needs of the school district and the needs of a couple of blocks," he said of the vote.

LaLota asked that before approving that the gate opening can continue, the village commit $7,500 toward the neighborhood for supplies and overtime for the public works and police departments.

Mayor Dennis Siry said he was committed to working with state officials to maintain Avon Lake and the surrounding area, but would not commit to a dollar figure now.

"We just have to remember that this is a temporary situation," he said.

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