By John Lynds
In a meeting coordinated by City Councilor Sal LaMattina on Monday night, neighbors and Edward Brooke Charter School administrators discussed ways the school is working to improve the bus and parking situation.
The Brooke faces a similar problem most schools across Boston face everyday during drop off and pick up. Plagued by narrow streets, schools and parents find it increasingly more difficult to park buses and cars to safely drop students off at the beginning of the school day and pick students up at the end of the school day.
Neighbors have complained drop off and pick up at the start and end of each school day has been causing gridlock on Bennington and Byron Streets. Since school started numerous buses have been double parking on Bennington Street, blocking intersections and MBTA bus shelters and making Byron Street too narrow for Eastie motorists to navigate. This, many neighbors complain, is leading to an unsafe situation around the school during arrival and dismissal and it is only a matter of time before there is an accident or worse.
At an Orient Heights meeting last month, the Edward Brooke’s Director of Operations Emily Burnor said the school has 12 buses each day and the school began a policy of only accepting four buses at a time to come down Byron Street in the morning and afternoon. The remaining buses have been waiting on a section of Cowper Street that is non-residential so there are three waves of buses at drop off and pick up.
At Monday night’s meeting, abutters to the school expressed their concern with the size and quantity of the buses and the traffic control in the area.
“As a response, the school has vowed to increase staff presence at its arrival and dismissal time, continue to reach out to its parents to encourage them to be good neighbors, and has started a sidewalk initiative to encourage more bike-riding and walking to the campus,” said Burnor. “Neighbors have stated that the traffic is definitely improving. The school wants to continue to dialogue with abutters not only to keep arrival and dismissal safe, but also to be good neighbors.”
LaMattina said the meeting went well and it was good to open a ongoing dialogue between the school and neighbors.
“It was good to bring everyone together and come up with a plan that works for both neighbors and the school,” said LaMattina. “I live down the street from the Bradley School and I know from 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. I’m not going to get down my street because there are buses and parents dropping students off,” LaMattina said Monday night. “This is not a problem unique to East Boston but it happens at all schools from here to the North End to Charlestown.”With that said we can not have a dangerous situation and we have to really look at that and address any changes that need to be made for the safety of the students.