Amityville has opened up a long-closed street gate so buses can more safely arrive and leave from Amityville Memorial High School during a large-scale construction project.
Work has begun that will double the footprint of the high school, Amityville Union Free School District Superintendent Mary Kelly told the village board of trustees at a meeting Monday. The work, which according to a district bond summary is expected to cost $46.5 million, is part of a nearly $70 million capital project approved by voters in 2016.
The school closed its Bayview Avenue egress because of the construction, causing notable "stress" on the school's only other opening on busy Merrick Road, Kelly said. Temporarily opening up the school’s gated north entrance to Lake Drive will alleviate “the traffic, the congestion and obvious safety issues” on Merrick Road, she said.
Construction at the school is expected to last until June 2020, Kelly said. The opening of the gate on Lake Drive only would be for the arrival and departures of about 13 or 14 buses, she said.
Village officials acknowledged at the meeting that Lake Drive residents had not yet been notified. Mayor Dennis Siry said officials did not want to alert them until it was certain the school needed the opening.
“I think they should have been invited to the meeting if we’re going to change their quality of life significantly,” said Trustee Nick LaLota.
Kelly emphasized that the matter is a “significant safety issue” for the school in the event of an emergency and Siry proposed opening up the street on a trial basis.
“If we get too many complaints and it’s not working out, we’ll have to try another option,” Siry said. He said Lake Drive residents can come to the board meeting on Sept. 24 to comment.
The board voted 5-0 to keep the gate opened for a one month trial from 6:45 to 7:15 a.m. and from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.
East and West Lake drives form a loop around Avon Lake, with dead ends marked by planters and bollards on either side of the school opening. The gate was opened Thursday and the planters and bollards removed from the East Lake Drive side of the loop, Siry said, leaving the loop closed to through traffic, but allowing buses out onto the street.
Siry said letters have gone out to Lake Drive residents, some of whom have already contacted the village with complaints. He said he is hopeful the gate won't have to be open for the next two years and that the school will be able to use the Bayview Avenue opening as construction progresses.