The controversial Paterson Arts and Science Charter School on East 33rd Street that had locals protesting, opened earlier in the week, resulting in a parking nightmare for residents of nearby Linden Road.
Two security guards stood in front of the back entrance of the school as parents drove up the aforementioned street to drop off their children for classes. One of the guard motions the motorists to stop in front of him, rather than elsewhere on the street: the drivers obey and stall their vehicles in front of him; the door opens, the students get out; the guard directs the pupils towards the entrance, where they enter the building. This was the second day of school at the newly opened charter.
During the first day, Robert Kersey, 59, a local whose property is located in front of the back entrance, said, “There were cars all over the place.” He said some of the parents dropping off students were blocking his driveway. Warren Hodges, a security guard at the school, admitted that the first day was a bit patchy because, emotional parents were hugging and kissing their children prior to letting them enter the school, causing some delay. “In the second week it will be better – it will get better from here,” said Hodges. During the morning of the second day, Hodges and the school’s security placed cones near the sidewalk of Kersey’s property, so as to prevent incoming vehicles from getting on his sidewalk or blocking his driveway.
“There is no traffic jam in the morning,” said Hodges. Indeed, much of the street was free of logjam during the morning as parents drove up, dropped off, and drove out of the avenue; however, the situation was different in the afternoon.
Even before the clock struck 3 p.m. parents began to gather inside the small parking space behind the school to pick up their children. Some parked on the curb blocking driveways; some parked on East 33rd Street under the bus stop sign; some parked at the mouth of nearby fire hydrants; and many more parked on curbs were there were visible no parking signs. Many residents, who live in the surrounding streets came out as the school was letting out students to ensure their driveways were not blocked.
Marcelo Marin, 45, who has been living in the area for the past fourteen years, said, people coming to pick up students from the school blocked his driveway multiple times. He said, “I called the cops twice already.” Marin said, during the first day the school opened, his elderly mother had a medical emergency, he called an ambulance, which couldn’t make it to his house because of the traffic congestion; emergency medical technicians had to park the ambulance more than a block away, and push his mother on a cart to the vehicle.
Parents disagree with the locals and their parking woes. Mark McCollum, 42, who came to pickup his son, who is in the 5th grade, said, “My son was going to a school in a bad area for three years.” He said the new area is much better, and one of the main reasons he and his wife moved his son to this school. “This is a good area and the neighbors are complaining about the buses — these are for the kids,” said McCollum, who says the parking inconvenience is a small price to pay for a good school.
“It’s a new school, so you’d imagine that they are still getting everything together,” said a man who was waiting to pickup his daughter. Adriana Familia, 27, who has a 3rd grader at the school, said, “They complain about the parking, we can always park on the other streets.”
The neighbors contend that the location is a residential area unfit for an expanding school, and have gathered a large number of signatures to petition the board of adjustment into removing the school from the area. Kersey said, the board of adjustment hearing is set for September 26th, 2013. “It could be reversed,” said Kersey.