PS 18 seeks safe drop-offs with 235th Ct. one-way

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Anyone who has seen a Queens elementary school at morning drop-off time knows how chaotic and even dangerous the process can be.

Despite a varied array of safety precautions and procedures, one Queens Village school is pushing to have a street designated one-way by the city Department of Transportation to make that process even more organized.

PS 18 sits on a quiet, residential block of 235th Court, just south of bustling Hillside Avenue. Left turns off Hillside Avenue (for westbound traffic) are already prohibited during morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up times, said PTA President Debbie Doudounis. Speed bumps on the block keep vehicles under control.

Doudounis said parent volunteers use cones each morning to keep the bus drop-off area clear and also enforce a strict stop-and-drop policy: parents driving northbound on 235th Court pull up, the children get out at curbside, and parents drive off toward Hillside Avenue without exiting the vehicles themselves.

"Stop and drop has alleviated the headache and worry," she said. "But there's still some chaos. Sometimes parents are their worst enemy."

Doudounis said some impatient parents evade the stop-and-drop backup by entering 235th Court from Hillside Avenue (presumably by making a right turn, not the illegal left), stopping on the opposite side of the street from the school.

"They let the kid out and say, 'run!'" Doudounis said.

She estimated that about 15 to 20 parents flout the stop-and-drop system and perform wrong-side drop-offs each morning.

Changing 235th Court to one-way northbound would solve that problem, she said. But she also understood that such an arrangement could make life inconvenient for the handful of residents who live on the block.

"Even if it is just during school hours, [or] for an hour in the morning and an hour when school lets out," the improvement would be immeasurable, Doudounis said.

Community Board 13, which includes Queens Village, was scheduled to discuss the matter at its most recent meeting May 19, but tabled the matter until June so that more research could be done.

Doudounis hoped the community board would support the school's efforts, but also admitted that the measures would not be necessary if parents simply cooperated with the stop-and-drop system.

"Nobody wants to wait on the line, but when we get it going, it moves," she said.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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