The Amityville village board of trustees is taking another look at a decision to open up a long-closed street gate so buses can exit from Amityville Memorial High School during a large-scale construction project.
In September the board granted the school permission to open up the gate on East Lake Drive on a trial basis after the 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, Amityville Union Free School District Superintendent Mary Kelly told the board.
Since then, local residents have complained about the buses, which exit each morning and afternoon during 30-minute intervals in which the gate is opened. East and West Lake drives form a loop with planters and bollards making the streets dead ends on either side of the school gate. The East Lake structures were removed for the buses.
Maria Zeck, who lives on West Lake Drive, said during a Sept. 24 meeting that opening the gate has created a hazardous condition because of the traffic, including parents and students driving down the street.
“We’re all concerned about the safety of the children but we’re also concerned about our safety,” she said, noting that the nearby Avon Lake is a destination for joggers and dog walkers.
Cathy Schultz, who has two children in the high school, described the weeks before the gate was opened as a “complete nightmare” on Merrick Road. She said keeping the gate open is temporary and a matter of student safety.
“You moved next to a school, you have to expect buses,” she said. “It’s a safety issue, somebody is going to get killed."
While village officials said Kelly had assured them buses would only leave through East Lake Drive, residents there said buses are also entering through the gate. Residents also noted that there are nearly two dozen buses using the gate not the “13 or 14” buses Kelly had assured. Trustees said they would look into both issues.
Residents also expressed their displeasure at not being notified until after the board approved the plan.
Mayor Dennis Siry said the board is deciding whether to extend the gate opening beyond this month and is expected to vote on the matter at a meeting on Oct. 22. He said in the interim, the village will install two-hour parking signs on East Lake Drive to discourage student parking.
Siry said he’d like the village to be “good neighbors” with the school.
“I’d like for the whole community to work together,” he said. “And if anyone has a better solution, I’m all ears for that too.”