City’s call for caution

Watch where you’re walking – and how.

That is the message that will be emphasized to Dunkirk City School District students as part of a new pedestrian safety program Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano has announced will be implemented in connection with the school district.

Ortolano announced the program, See! Be Seen! is available through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Traffic Committee, and will include the distribution of materials to students regarding pedestrian safety. To see the informational card, visit www.observertoday.com. The program educates from viewpoints of the pedestrian and motorists, both of which are responsible for pedestrian safety, Ortolano said.

“We encourage all parents to talk with their children about pedestrian safety and also remind all pedestrians and operators of motor vehicles to review the safety tips related to pedestrian safety,” Ortolano added.

Posters will be hung in the schools and local businesses, and information cards will be distributed to students. Dunkirk Superintendent Gary Cerne thanked the police department for involving the school, stating with the good weather approaching, more students will be outside.

“The timing is perfect. Hopefully the weather’s going to improve and the kids will be more active,” said Cerne. “I thank Chief (Ortolano) for including us.”

Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera, who chairs the committee, also brought up a safety concern regarding the Sixth Street crosswalk. He said the crosswalk near the high school and the student parking lot do not meet and students are not utilizing the crosswalk.

“They’re just crossing wherever and whenever. If there is an open spot in the snow drift, they’re going to go,” said Rivera. “There is just kids everywhere and they’re crossing anywhere.”

Ortolano said there had been discussion about restriping the crosswalk or placing signs on both sides of the street. Tim Abbey, director of buildings, grounds and transportation for the district, said the crosswalk will be addressed in Phase 4 of the capital project scheduled to start next year.

Another concern Rivera has is parking on Brooks Avenue, adjacent to School 5. Motorists are parking behind buses at the school and residents are being blocked in their driveways during school drop-off and pickup times. Cerne said the district is looking to put in about 10 parking spots behind the school for extra parking.

“The problem still is even though there are spots, people want to park as close as they can. Hopefully that will give us some flexibility with some parking in the back,” he said.

Ortolano said the area is being patrolled by officers and they have warned motorists about parking behind buses. Police have given out parking tickets to motorists who are not complying after several warnings.

“If we have to inconvenience a couple of people because they can’t park in certain places, so be it. I’m more concerned about kids crossing the road in between cars and where the school buses are, so we try to keep that lane clear,” said Ortolano.

“Unfortunately, I know there is not a lot of parking around there. We do the best we can and we hope that everybody understands that we have to keep that lane clear for traffic, and we don’t want kids running between buses and cars and have something happening.”

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com