Webster resident Jillian Gatsogiannis lives on Klebart Avenue near the School Street intersection, which she says her neighbors call the “launching pad” for commuters speeding down to Lake Parkway and the highway. They pass by stopped school buses and drive through the school crossing while the guard and walkers are still in it, she says.
Ms. Gatsogiannis is “getting fed up with all that high speed traffic, especially because of all the kids walking to school,” and is now a woman on a mission to slow them down.
She called the Police Department last Thursday at 7:15 in the morning to ask them to patrol the area, at least when the kids are on their way to and from the nearby Middle School and Junior/Senior High School. The officer she spoke with told her that there were only three officers on duty and did she know how many miles of roads they have to cover?
She wasn’t happy with the answer and talked to his supervisor, and then to the sergeant. She got into a discussion with him about tax dollars at work…not a productive conversation, both concede.
Still, ten minutes later a squad car arrived on the scene, and in the next 45 minutes, the officer cited four cars for speeding. It takes time to write up each one, Ms. Gatsogiannis noted.
But she wasn’t done yet. She went to visit Police Chief Timothy J. Bent to tell him that speeding on Klebart and Lake Parkway is a problem. No one else has complained, she said he told her, but indicated they might start patrolling there, yet making no promises.
Her next stop was Town Administrator John McAuliffe’s office. He told her that he would look into it.
Then she stopped by the Filmer building to find School Superintendent Gregory Ciardi. He was not in, and she explained her mission to his secretary.
On Friday morning she called this newspaper to tell her story.
We talked with Police Chief Timothy J. Bent on Monday. “We take her complaint very seriously,” he said, “and we will speak with every agency that’s involved to resolve this issue.”
Chief Bent said Ms. Gatsogiannis was most concerned with the Klebart traffic. “I agree that cars are probably going too fast out there, and we plan to look aggressively at the problem.” He said the department does send radar patrol out there regularly and also brings the speed trailer that warns drivers they are exceeding the speed limit.
“We do have a lot of road to cover - 121 miles of it, so we can’t be out there every day.
But we’ll do what needs to be done,” he added.
Ms. Gatsogiannis would like to see better signage on the street. Perhaps a blinking school zone sign.
Right now there is a speed limit sign for 30 mph, but she says cars are going 45 miles an hour by the time they get from the School Street intersection to the third house on Klebart. And besides, shouldn’t school zones be posted 20 mph?
Chief Bent explained that some things, like signs, have to be done through the Safety Committee, and he promised to pursue that with them.
Police Sergeant Rodney Budrow, who took the call from Ms. Gatsogiannis, said that “when people call we do send officers to help out with the situation, but we can’t have one there every day.” He also said that he had contacted the school department, and they had already talked with the school bus company, which assured them that the bus drivers have reported no incidents of cars passing the busses.
Ms. Gatsogiannis has two eight-year old daughters, and she’s afraid “they’re going to get nailed by someone driving a car.” She says one neighbor’s dog was hit, another one was killed. Next time it could be a kid, she thinks.
And she’s not going to stop calling until someone listens. We think the Chief has.
- Tuesday, 24 January 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor