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Massena High School officials announce traffic flow changes

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MASSENA - The area in front of Massena High School that had been reserved for bus and emergency vehicle use has now been opened up for after-hours picking up and dropping off of passengers, but not for parking.

In a message posted on the district’s website this week, district officials noted, “As a means to provide access to events at the high school after regular school hours, we are providing drop off - pick up access through the bus lane in front of the high school. Please note: This is not for parking purposes, rather pick up/drop off only. Appropriate signs have been placed to direct drivers through this access area. Violations of this practice will result in towing at the owner’s expense.”

Although district officials have previously opened up the area for handicapped access in some cases such as graduation at the school, the norm has been to keep the section open only to bus traffic and emergency vehicles.

But Interim Superintendent William W. Crist said they have now elected to make the area more accessible for those who need to be picked up or dropped off closer to the high school building.

“The change was made last Friday. It was kind of kicked off, if you will, for the hall of fame induction that evening at the high school,” he said.

“We’re just trying to be a little more accommodating so people who may need to be dropped off or be picked up wouldn’t have to walk quite as far. We thought it was a little more helpful,” Mr. Crist said.

The front of the school will still serve as a regular pick-up and drop-off area for students arriving at school by bus. After school hours, around the 3:30 to 3:45 p.m. time frame, the gates that keep other traffic out will be raised and individuals will be able to access the front of the building with their vehicles to pick up or drop off someone, but not park. The gate will be lowered again before the start of school the following day.

“We’ve certainly worked with our architects on record at the time with things like handicapped parking. We’re within the legal requirements of providing handicap access there. This seems to go a step beyond to allow someone who may be wheelchair-bound or someone who cannot walk quite that distance to be dropped off curbside,” Mr. Crist said.

Vehicles that are found parked are subject to being towed from the area.

“It’s very clearly marked. Vertical signs that are posted there say there’s no parking and that it’s a tow-away zone. We hope it doesn’t come to that. We ask for the public to be respectful of the access that we’re providing and the ability of people to pick up and drop off and not park there. We would be prepared to tow if it became a safety hazard or if people didn’t follow the signage,” Mr. Crist said.

Board of education Vice President Ronald A. Faucher had shared his concerns about handicapped parking at the high school during the board’s July meeting. He told board members he was under the impression that the area would be opened up in some instances for handicapped individuals.

“It was supposed to be opened up during events for handicapped parking,” Mr. Faucher had noted.

But fellow board member Kevin F. Perretta had noted that the areas designated for handicapped parking in the school’s main parking lot were already in compliance with the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Handicapped parking spaces had previously been located at a former traffic circle in front of the school. However, that changed in 2011 following the completion of a new traffic pattern project at the high school and Nightengale Elementary School.

The new configuration separated vehicle, pedestrian and bus traffic at the high school. The parking circle was eliminated and the area in front of the building was designated for bus pick-up and drop-off and emergency vehicles only. A security gate ensures that only buses and emergency vehicles are allowed in that area.

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