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New stop signs make PS 79 safer: Halloran

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The children of PS 79 are a little safer, thanks to a grassroots effort on behalf of the school’s parents and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) that resulted in the installation of two new stop signs.

The school sits at 147-27 15th Drive in an idyllic residential neighborhood of hills and narrow roads, and one of its corners is the five-way intersection of 147th Street and 15th Avenue, a precarious confluence for drivers.

Until this month, there were two stop signs on 15th Avenue but none on 147th Street despite the fact that 800 children are dropped off and picked back up again at PS 79 every school day.

Dan Godley, an area resident, has been advocating for stop signs on 15th for 20 years, to no avail.

In 2005, Katina Slattery’s daughter Gianna entered kindergarten at PS 79, and Katina began a letter-writing and advocating campaign with the help of other PS 79 parents to get stop signs.

Finally the signs were installed March 5 and unveiled by Halloran Friday afternoon.

Gianna is in fifth-grade now, but her mother said she is glad to see some action at last on the safety concern that has led to numerous vehicle accidents since she began to pay attention to the intersection, which is blocks from her home.

She has sent a long succession of letters to the city Department of Transportation suggesting the signs and other traffic-calming devices, including speed bumps, but nothing was ever done about the dangerous scenario until Halloran pushed the agency to act.

“I got a lot of rejections, and seeing the continuous accidents occurring and potential accidents, the safety of the children fueled me to keep going,” she said. “I am so thrilled that we finally have a four-way stop and our children are safer because of it.”

Halloran said the DOT says speed bumps are not possible in the location because of the nearness of driveways and problems with underground gas lines, but he said he thinks the stop signs should have a significant positive impact on schoolchil­dren’s safety.

“I’m glad we were able to do this to keep our kids safe and make our crossing guard’s job a little easier,” Halloran said.

Kathy Duchesne has a daughter in fourth-grade at PS 79, and her ninth-grade son went to the school starting in kindergarten. She said she is happy to finally see something done about the intersection.

“The speed bumps they nixed, but we got the signs so we’ll take what we can get,” she said. “It should be a big help. In the winter, [drivers] skate across the intersection on the ice when kids are crossing the street — and parents, too.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 10:53 am, October 12, 2011
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