Construction is to begin this summer at David Paterson Elementary School in Hempstead Village to improve pedestrian safety — 10 years after the grant was awarded, officials said.
The roughly $510,000 “Safe Routes to School” federal grant, which is dispersed through the state Department of Transportation, will pay for signage, sidewalk and crosswalk upgrades. The village received the funding in 2008.
“The 10 years is hard to explain,” Mayor Don Ryan said, noting that village administrations and the project’s design consultants have changed. “There was always seemingly something that was holding it up.” The David Paterson Elementary School is the first of three schools in the Hempstead Union Free School District to receive the funding, and construction should begin in July and be completed by the first day of school in the fall, according to Acting Superintendent Regina Armstrong. Jackson Main School and Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School are expected to undergo similar improvements in 2019.
“We are pleased that the Village is again progressing these important school-related safety projects,” said a statement from the state Department of Transportation. “The safety of our school children is paramount. NYSDOT is committed to working with and providing technical support to the Village, the project sponsor, to ensure these local projects are delivered without additional delays.”
The project is being spearheaded by the village’s Community Development Agency and the school district. It includes an educational component to teach students and their parents how to properly walk or bike to school.
“We have to ensure that our children are able to navigate those heavily trafficked roadways safely,” said CDA commissioner Charlene Thompson, who was hired in January.
She said the project will include new sidewalks and crosswalks, pavement resurfacing, handicapped ramps, pedestrian warning school crossing signs, school speed limit signs, speed tracking signs and new pavement markings. The educational component will be comprised of training initiatives, a neighborhood watch program and bicycle helmets for children.
The district does not provide busing for students. Armstrong said parents also need to be involved in the program.
“We still see a lot of parents crossing kids in the middle of the streets, as opposed to at the crossing guard,” she said.
Officials said the school zones currently lack enough signage to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians.
“Anything we can do for the safety of our youngsters is welcomed,” Ryan said.
LaMont Johnson, a village trustee and school board member, said drivers sometimes speed near the schools.
“We have to do everything possible to make it as safe for the students as we can,” he said.
A nearly $510,000 “Safe Routes to School” grant will fund improvements to the David Paterson Elementary School.
- There are infrastructure and educational components to the project.
- Construction is slated to begin in July and be completed by the start of school in the fall.
- Jackson Main School and Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School received similar funding and are expected to undergo construction in summer 2019.