September 3, 2010

Journal Inquirer Towns Vernon One-way street changes Maple Street School pattern

Journal Inquirer Towns Vernon One-way street changes Maple Street School pattern
VERNON — Groggy parents beware; when dropping your children off at the first day of school at Maple Street Elementary on Thursday, remember that the formerly two-way, congested section of Maple Street in front of the school is now a one-way street.

The change came after decades of debate over how to make the area in front of Maple Street school safer for students, especially during busy drop-off and pickup times when dozens of vehicles rush the school entrance.

The section of Maple Street between Union Street and West Main Street is now designated one-way, and cars must enter from the West Main Street side to avoid collisions.

Police spokesman Officer Daniel Champagne said there will likely be an officer stationed at Maple Street on the first day of school to help make the transition smoother and prevent possible accidents. He said he’s already seen a number of people attempt to turn onto Maple Street from the Union Street end, not realizing the traffic pattern has changed.

Public Works employees implemented the “traffic calming” measure last week by installing parking stall lines and adding signs, according to Mayor Jason L. McCoy.

The transition to one-way also allowed for the creation of 32 new parking spaces for teachers and parents, effectively resolving two longstanding concerns for commuters to the school — congestion and a lack of parking.

The oldest operating school in town, Maple Street opened its doors on Jan. 2, 1924, at a time when most students simply walked to school.

Then, not only was the town’s population far smaller, but there was no need for city planners to factor in large amounts of space to park vehicles that were not yet common, resulting in narrow streets and tightly spaced buildings with little room to squeeze a car.

But 86 years later, the school’s teachers, like many in the Rockville section of town, have struggled to find adequate parking in the area.

At a Town Council meeting on January 5, council member Mark Etre brought the issue up again after receiving a letter from Grant Street resident James Smith, describing the deterioration of the area around his home and the school.

Etre said recently that he is “pleased with the result of our collective efforts. Our Police Department, Traffic Authority, Board of Education, and residents worked together to find a workable solution.”

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