BALLSTON SPA — The Village of Ballston Spa and the Ballston Spa Central School District are working together to come up with a solution to pedestrian safety issues around the Malta Avenue Elementary School.
A special meeting was held Wednesday to discuss concerns people have about Hyde Boulevard and surrounding streets along with potential solutions to them.
Village mayor Frank Rossi Jr. and Ed Martin, BSCSD Coordinator of facilities and security, discussed concerns residents raised about pedestrian safety around the school. Members of the public were invited to speak up with their concerns and potential solutions to those issues during the meeting. Rossi and Martin also read comments and concerns they had received via email from members of the public who were not in attendance at the virtual meeting.
“I’ve been here for 22 years so far, and a lot of changes have occurred in the district in that time period,” Martin said. “An awful lot of those changes that have happened related to traffic flow, parent pickup, that were primarily driven by going through COVID the last few years.”
Martin said that the school district had previously done studies and made adjustments which resulted in some relief on Chapman Street. He explained those changes allowed the school to accommodate a larger number of parents who were picking up and dropping off their children at the Malta Avenue School. The school moved its bus pickup and drop off locations to Pine and Grove streets which cleared the opening of Malta Avenue for the parent drop off and pickup area.
“My office received complaints as well as did the principal’s office at Malta Avenue, seeking some relief for the speeding that was happening on Hyde Boulevard,” Martin said. “And the primary concern was the safety of their children crossing Hyde Boulevard to access Chapman street to walk to the Malta Avenue School.”
While Martin said that the intersection farther north has a crosswalk, he explained there is no crosswalk on either side of Chapman Street that crosses Hyde Boulevard. Unfortunately, the school district cannot install one there because the property is not owned by the district. Both Rossi and Martin said that the school district legally can not make improvements on property it does not own.
Rossi shared a list of some potential solutions for concerns about Hyde Boulevard such as: installing speed bumps and stop signs, lowering the speed limit, adding speed dips, or installing bump outs with crosswalks.
Rossi and Martin also discussed the pros and cons of some of the potential solutions. They discussed the impact speed bumps could have on residents in that neighborhood, and that speed dips are less of an issue than speed bumps for plows to drive over in the winter.
Members of the public were also able to speak at the meeting and share their thoughts about the current state of the roads and their ideas about solutions.
“People have brought up crosswalks quite often,” Malta Avenue resident Dave McDonald said.” I definitely advocate that going from Hyde to Chapman and Malta to Ralph [Street]. My wife and I were big advocates for the crosswalk put in from our house at Malta going over to Hyde. The only thing I’d like you guys to consider is the quality of paint.”
The paint on the crosswalk McDonald spoke about only lasted about a month he said.
“I agree with the mayor, the no truck signs, they could be a lot better,” Hyde Boulevard resident and teacher Shannon Hansen said. ”I’ve been doing some research and I know signage doesn’t seem to help much it seems like with many studies. I love the bump out idea; I have seen three parked cars hit on our street in the past 10 years.”
The safety concerns are not limited to children coming and going from school. Hyde Boulevard resident Nicholas Baish explained he loves the Zim Smith Trail but explained that around 5 p.m., he is afraid to ride his bike there because the traffic gets too fast.
“I do see that there is an issue here on Hyde Boulevard, especially with big trucks,” Baish said. “I do see the speeding at the corner of Hyde and Chapman. I’ve witnessed a couple of accidents, I believe they’re usually due to high speeds on Hyde Boulevard.”
A lot more about the roads and potential solutions will be said and heard in the future Rossi said.
“This is a cooperation opportunity between the school district and the village,” Rossi said. “We are two separate entities, and we know that there are limitations to what we can do as those entities for each other. But at the end of the day there are some things that we might be able to do independently that would take some pressure off of the other side ultimately.”