Schenectady County

Compromise lets St. John’s School keep half of its signs

Half of the no-trespassing signs around St. John’s School must come down, but the other 10 signs can
A posted no-trespassing sign is shown at the entranceway to St. John’s School on Eastern Parkway in Schenectady as parents pick up their children after school Wednesday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A posted no-trespassing sign is shown at the entranceway to St. John’s School on Eastern Parkway in Schenectady as parents pick up their children after school Wednesday.

Half of the no-trespassing signs around St. John’s School must come down, but the other 10 signs can stay, the Historic District Commission decided.

The signs went up about six weeks ago, in violation of the city’s historic district regulations. The city cited the school and sent its pastor to the commission, where the two sides brokered a compromise after the Rev. Richard Carlino argued that he needs some way to warn people to stay off the property.

Parents have supported the signs in hopes that they would deter unsavory characters from wandering through the school yard. But commission members questioned whether the signs were even necessary, suggesting that most people would just walk right past them.

Not so, said Carlino, pastor of the adjacent St. John the Evangelist Church, which operates the school.

“I told them it had been very effective. Since we put them up, traffic has been much reduced,” he said.

Before the meeting, Chairman James Jamieson said he wanted Carlino to consider other options, including gates. Signs should be the last resort, he said.

But during the meeting, Carlino said gates would be far too expensive.

The two sides eventually came to a deal. Carlino must take down all of the signs that have been posted on the historic fence around the campus. Those signs can be placed on posts behind the fence.

Carlino said he was willing to protect the fence by removing the signs.

“That’s their feeling and I want to respect that,” he said.

He must also eliminate half of the signs, leaving just one sign at each entrance and exit. He is limited to 10 signs.

Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said removing the signs from the fence was the commission’s biggest concern.

“That was the most significant historic feature they were trying to save,” Van Norden said.

Carlino said he was happy with the compromise, even though he’d wanted to keep all the signs, because the commission seemed willing to work with him.

“They’re all very pleasant people,” he said.

St. John’s School has operated on the edge of the Nott Terrace Heights neighborhood for 50 years without trouble, but a recent decline in homeownership and rise in crime has led to concerns about the children’s safety.

Carlino said the signs were put up in response to that concern. School Principal Marie Keenan said she’s installed security cameras as well.

“We know we’re in a changing neighborhood and we’re taking more precautionary measures,” she said.

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