Kendall parents seek reduced speed limit in front of Jr./Sr. High School

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 16 June 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Kristina Gabalski – Kendall High School student Madison Rath, standing at far right, describes a traumatic motor vehicle accident she experienced recently in front of the Jr./Sr. High School to Board of Education members and school administrators. She said the speed limit needs to be lowered and the stretch of Route 18 should also become a no-passing zone.

KENDALL –  A group of concerned parents and students told Kendall Board of Education members and administrators Wednesday evening that they want to see the speed limit lowered on Route 18/Roosevelt Highway in front of the Jr./Sr. High School.

The current speed limit is 50 miles per hour and parents who spoke said that is dangerously high. They noted a blind spot on the hill as drivers approach the school from the east and the lack of a flashing sign to warn motorists. There is a caution sign, parent Cherise Nesbitt-Oakley said, but it is partially hidden by tree and plant growth.

Madison Rath, a 16-year-old Kendall High School student, spoke to the Board regarding a motor vehicle accident in which she was involved six weeks ago in front of the school.

“Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but it was one of the most horrifying situations of my life,” Rath said.  She noted that in addition to a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, the section of road in front of the school is also a passing zone.

“Why would you have a dangerous situation like that in front of a high school?” Rath questioned.  “We are the newest of (new) drivers just wanting to get home after another long school day. What if someone was seriously hurt or even killed?”

Parents said they would like to see the speed limit reduced to 35 miles per hour, but noted 40 miles per hour may be the lowest the state will go. They said a school speed zone should be posted from Norway to Kendall roads.  Route 18 is a state highway.

Board members and administrators were very supportive of the effort to lower the speed limit.  School Board President Nadine Hanlon advised that residents send letters to the Orleans County Legislature as well as NYS Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Robert Ortt.  She said the greater the number of letters, the more significant the impact on lawmakers.

“I don’t want there to be any more accidents,” Hanlon said, and added that she is always watching in her rearview mirror as she slows to pull into the school campus.

Superintendent Julie Christensen said she would make concerns known to local officials, but also advised that parents need to speak up.

“You are really the voices they will listen to,” she said.

Parents presented board members with a memorandum from Lovette French, who works in security at the Jr./Sr, High School. French noted that the accident involving Madison Rath was one of six observed personally in the area.

“A reduced speed limit during school hours would benefit the safety and well-being of our student body population,” French wrote.

Alicia Charland, a parent who lives just across the street from the campus, said visibility is poor in both directions and the road is busy. She said Kendall bus drivers are also, “worried about the danger,” in the area.

In other business, board members approved a partnership agreement between the Kendall Central School District and Orleans County YMCA regarding a before and after school program for students that will be housed at the Kendall Elementary School beginning in the fall.  The program will begin at 6 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. in the evenings.

The Orleans YMCA is, “a great partner,” said Christensen, the district superintendent.  “They are excited about bringing this service to us.”

Elementary Principal Sharon Smith said officials at the YMCA have told her the new partnership ensures that before and after school care will, “never be out of reach for anyone in Kendall Schools.”

Smith explained that the YMCA hopes to expand the program after a year’s time with support of the Universal Pre-K half day and perhaps an in-house summer program.