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A small, dilapidated sign with the letters “SLO” and a fraction of a “W” warns motorists to be aware of children near the Little League fields in Rosedale’s Brookville Park, and community members say they want better before the unthinkable happens.
“We have over 200-something children in this league, which means it’s more than double that number in parents, cousins, neighbors that come out as spectators to see these games,” league President Bernie Brown, clad in a reflective, orange vest, said at the fields earlier this week. “It’s a shame for anyone to tell us that we do not need some type of safety measures in this area right here.”
Last week, 7-year-old Alec McFarlane was crossing heavily trafficked 147th Avenue when he was hit by a car. Alec’s mother said she was devastated to see her son’s face covered in blood.
“Please do something,” Janet Grant implored the city Department of Transportation. “He was lucky. The next child may not be as lucky as him.”
Alec has four staples in his head and is hoping his doctor will clear him next week to return to the Little League field.
The avenue is one of the main east-west routes to cross Rosedale, and it runs straight through Brookville Park with baseball fields on each side of the road.
From the point where the fields are located drivers can see traffic lights in either direction, and Brown said the stretch of road can turn into a speedway with motorists racing to beat the light.
On top of that, there is parking by the fields and, as cars stop to turn off the road, impatient motorists will pass them, creating a hectic traffic scene.
Community members said they have asked the DOT on numerous occasions to install some kind of safety device. Speed bumps, they were told, were not possible because Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses travel the road.
So instead they would like to see caution signs, blinking lights and a mid-road crossing.
City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said his predecessor had put in more than a dozen requests for traffic studies, but to no avail.
“One of the things the Department of Transportation tries to do is they want traffic to flow, and we understand that,” he said. “We don’t want 100 cars lined up, but at the same time we don’t want these cars to be traveling through here at 40, 50 miles an hour, because that’s what they’re doing. You can stand out here; you’ll see it any day.”
Richard said when DOT conducts studies the department uses federal guidelines that reduce safety to a game of numbers, and called on the department to put in something to slow motorists.
“We don’t need any more studies,” he said. “The studies did not help this young man when he was crossing the street.”
A spokeswoman said the DOT conducted studies for a speed bump in 2012 and a traffic-control device in 2009, but the location did not meet the department’s guidelines.
“The agency plans to re-examine the area to see if there are additional ways to enhance safety for everyone using the street,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email.
Richards said he has scheduled a town hall meeting for 6 p.m. May 21 at IS 231 to discuss speeding and traffic issues.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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