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Q&A Greenville Forum

 

Edgemont Bond 2024

Building Dreams

Forum at Greenville Elementary School

February 6, 2024

 

 

Panel:

Mariquita Blumberg, Board of Education President

Jennifer DeMarrais, Board of Education Vice President

Grace Lin, Board of Education Trustee

Dolya Fleck, Board of Education Trustee

Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, Superintendent of Schools

Bryan Paul, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administration

Marisa Ferrara, Greenville Elementary School Principal

John D’Angelo, Architect, Fuller & D’Angelo

Costanzo Spedaliere, Chief, Greenville Fire District

Moderator: Dr. Amy Moselhi, Assistant Business Official and Treasurer

BOE Trustees Present: Nareen Jabbour, Heather Stern

Audience: About 110 residents

 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

 

What other options were considered for the location of the roadway?

The need for a roadway was identified as a critical priority out of concerns for safety and security based on conversations with our building principal Marisa Ferrara, and emergency personnel, including our fire and police departments. A second entry point to the campus is essential for three key reasons: 1) to enhance emergency access, particularly in the back of the building; 2) to create an alternate egress so traffic can be directed there, allowing first responders to enter on the other side in case of emergency; and 3) for traffic management. Unless traffic management is prioritized, an access road would not facilitate an efficient emergency response. First responders currently have difficulty reaching the school if there is an emergency during drop-off or pick-up because they get caught in the traffic coming down Longview and Glendale.

The following alternate possibilities were considered but ruled out as insufficient to meet these goals:

  • Scarsdale Farm Road - as a cul de sac road, pickup, drop off and emergency evacuations from this point would cause the same traffic bottlenecks currently experienced on Glendale, meaning emergency vehicles would still not be able to reach the school quickly and efficiently, and the fire chief has stated that it would not be feasible to bring the department's largest truck that way, limiting the ability to respond in an emergency.
  • Greenville Road - similar to the Scarsdale Farm Road option, opening an access point here would push traffic into that part of the neighborhood where it would also merge with traffic on Glendale, exacerbating congestion in the event of an emergency. It is also unsuitable for emergency access because it is too narrow for the larger fire trucks to fit and provides no access to the back of the school.
  • Running along the kindergarten wing side of the building - this would be too narrow for efficient emergency vehicle access or turn-around, and does not solve the traffic issue.
  • Widening the existing service path from Ardsley Road - this option does not mitigate traffic, so first responders would continue to have trouble reaching the building.
  • Running along the fence on the sixth-grade wing wide of the building - emergency vehicles cannot come up this pathway because the grading is too steep. The slope would also cause traffic to move too fast and create potentially hazardous conditions in icy conditions.

 

Are students safe around the proposed access road?

Safety is paramount and the primary concern driving the need for the access road. To ensure safety of children during the school day, the road will be accessible to vehicular traffic during dropoff and pickup only.  Currently, our focus is on safeguarding students from vehicular traffic by ensuring they play within clear sight lines, utilizing the support of administrators, teachers, and aides to enhance their safety. These established practices will be maintained.

Furthermore, building administrators will continue to work closely with the PTA to guarantee the safety of students enjoying the outdoor space during after-school club activities as well.

 

What about access to the green area behind the road?

While it's understandable and expected that there would be concerns about the potential loss of green and play spaces, the road was carefully planned to minimize this impact. Its route was chosen to minimize disruption to usable outdoor areas. The road follows a path within the property, separating the field from largely unused land. The green areas beyond the proposed road are currently not utilized by students. This deliberate distance is maintained to ensure student safety, providing clear sightlines for staff supervision and avoiding areas that may pose risks due to steepness or rocky terrain.

 

Is the playground being removed?

There is only one playground at Greenville that will be impacted by the construction, and it is not being removed. It will be shifted 90 degrees, and will receive a welcome update after having been much used and loved since 2008.

 

Is Greenville’s back field being removed or made smaller, and if so, how will Edgemont athletic teams be able to practice and field competitions?

The back field is not being made smaller. It will be shifted a few degrees to accommodate the new road. The district is committed to meeting the needs of our student athletes. Thus, in an effort to preserve the current size of the field, the existing dimensions striped by the Facilities Department were replicated, measured, and found to be 160’ x 300’.  At a minimum these dimensions will be maintained in the new field. The district’s Athletic Director, Anthony DeRosa, confirmed that the Greenville back field is used by the modified soccer and lacrosse teams. The field, as currently striped, falls five feet short of the minimum soccer field width as defined by the National Federation of High School Athletics. In reconstructing this field, we intend to widen it by an additional five feet to meet this criteria.   

 

Could you discuss the phasing of these projects and their potential impact on students?

The pacing and scheduling of project delivery are ongoing discussions with architects, the district team, and construction management. Once the bond is approved, documents will need to be drafted and then submitted to the state for final approval. Based on the timing of other projects our architects are involved in, we understand that the process currently takes about six  months or longer. After the state approves those documents, the bid process can be commenced. The plan is to phase the entire project out over 2.5 to 3 years (district-wide). The road construction is likely to commence in the summer of 2025, with completion expected the following spring. Most of the field can remain in use during this phase. After road construction, upgrades to the irrigation system and field surface will be undertaken, rendering most of the field out of service. However, the majority of the work is planned for the summer months, with ancillary projects potentially accommodated through night shifts or weekends to ensure school safety.

 

How long is the access road?

Approximately 700 feet.

 

How many trees will be removed for this project?

While 30 trees will be removed as part of the plan, 45 new trees will be planted.

 

Have you estimated the cost of maintaining the new road?

No cost estimation has been performed. The district does not subcontract maintenance of our properties. Existing staff would continue to maintain (i.e., plow, leaf blowing, etc.) the property with our own equipment and supplies.

 

Would busing be a possibility to relieve some of the traffic concerns?

While the proposed road will incur a one-time cost, opting for busing as an alternative to relieve traffic concerns would introduce recurring costs. Implementing a busing system necessitates the establishment of a large parking lot, garage facilities, maintenance staff, the purchase or leasing of vehicles for a fleet of buses large enough to serve all students, and the recruitment of bus drivers, which is not financially viable.

 

What is the plan for managing the safety of children who will now have to cross the new road to access the school from Scarsdale Farm Road?

The architectural design incorporates a new pedestrian pathway, situated slightly north of the current location. Access to this pathway will be restricted to pedestrians during peak hours. Traffic from Glendale Road will be directed left of the crosswalk, while traffic from Ardsley will be rerouted away from the area before reaching it, ensuring no student crossings coincide with traffic. There are also plans to use cones and to strategically place staff members to assist with safe crossing.

 

What arrangements are being made to manage traffic and kids playing near the basketball courts and playground after school?

The design includes fencing along the new roadway to separate it from the playground area, ensuring safety during use. Furthermore, during pickup and drop-off times, access to the basketball courts will be temporarily restricted.

 

Has a traffic study been conducted to assess the impact of increased traffic on nearby roads, especially during pickup and drop-off times?

Although a formal study has not been conducted, the access road is designed to bring vehicles off the street and onto campus. In addition, operational decisions such as right-turn and left-turn regulations will be considered to optimize traffic flow.

 

Is there a study on student addresses to understand traffic patterns?

This question came up during discussions of the 2021 bond. At that time, Principal Jennifer Allen shared that approximately 45% of students lived south of Ardsley Road, which aligns with observations of drop-off patterns.

 

Could you confirm whether the undeveloped land owned by the district that connects with Scarsdale Farm Road can be utilized as an emergency pathway?

Scarsdale Farm Road was one of three roads considered for the creation of a secondary egress. Upon review of the options, Ardsley Road was determined to be most suitable for accomplishing the goals of providing a secondary emergency access point, establishing a secondary egress, and alleviating traffic congestion on Glendale Road.

 

Why do you advocate for fencing around the school despite the potential loss of green space?

Despite concerns about losing some green space, the primary focus is on maintaining safety for all students. With an active road at one school boundary, fencing is essential to keep students from harm. The current small fence serves as a deterrent to keep the children safe within the confines of the field where they can be easily monitored. However, building administrators have advocated for a more substantial fence to mitigate the risks posed by an open campus more effectively.

 

During a serious evacuation, how far away from the building do you envision the children being if they're enclosed by fencing around the perimeter?

Implementing best practices for safety barriers involves careful consideration of various factors. To ensure students' safety, it is essential to maintain a balance between creating a secure perimeter with fencing and allowing a sufficient distance from the building for evacuation purposes. The fencing will be strategically designed to prevent students from unauthorized access. A comprehensive safety strategy would prioritize clear and well-marked evacuation routes, along with secure fencing, ensuring that students are both protected and able to evacuate efficiently during critical situations.

 

Was staggered drop-off and dismissal ever taken into consideration?

This is a complicated question that has been raised before. In order to implement any such changes to the schedule at any of the three schools, agreements would need to be reached with each of the bargaining units in the district, which include the Edgemont Teachers Association (ETA), and separate units within the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) for the clerical and custodial teams, as well as the teachers’ aides, to amend their contracts. In addition to contractual considerations for our teachers and support staff, we recognized that implementing a staggered arrival could potentially exacerbate traffic issues. The aim is to strike a balance between contractual obligations and logistical considerations, ensuring a smooth and safe experience for both students and parents during arrival and dismissal times.