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Crash horror in Slope spurs renewed calls for stop sign near Marine Park school

Slow down: Two teachers from JHS 278 in Marine Park made stop signs to direct traffic at the busy Avenue S and Stuart Street intersection near the school, where the city has refused to put a stop sign.
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The mayor should take traffic dangers in their neighborhood as seriously as he takes those in Park Slope, say Marine Parkers demanding a stop sign near JHS 278.

The city moved swiftly to announce safety fixes for Ninth Street after a fatal crash killed two kids on March 5, but has refused for a decade to put a stop sign at an intersection near the Marine Park school, and one resident is worried officials won’t take action until the worst happens.

“Are they awaiting for a death?” said Elizabeth Morrissey, complaining that the city’s inaction makes Mayor DeBlasio’s traffic-safety rhetoric sound hollow. “This is the same mayor talking about Vision Zero, but we can’t get a stop sign.”

For the past ten years, teachers at JHS 278 have stood at the corner of Stuart Street and Avenue S holding up handmade stop signs every day when school gets out in an effort to get drivers on Stuart Street to slow down when they pass the school.

The principal directed teachers to use the makeshift stop signs a decade ago after the city refused to consider an official octagon at the intersection.

“The city hasn’t been all that responsive,” said Debra Garofalo. “I have to look out for my children.”

But the president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association says the teachers shouldn’t have to spend time acting as human stop signs.

“Should they be doing this or teaching kids?” said Ed Jaworski.

Jaworski said the tragic Park Slope crash could prompt the city to take the Stuart Street situation more seriously.

“Every time something like in Park Slope happens, it puts this on the front of the burner,” he said.

Jaworski and Garofalo both said they have asked the Department of Transportation for a stop sign there many times over the years, and DeBlasio promised residents he would look into a stop sign at Stuart Street and Avenue S at a town hall last September. But later that month, city officials visited the intersection and decided a stop sign wasn’t warranted, putting up a “No Standing Anytime” sign instead.

Officials from the Department of Transportation told the Marine-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association there were not enough accidents in the area to warrant placing a stop sign, according to Morrissey. But she said a sign is still needed to prevent accidents, citing the tendency of people to speed on Stuart Street past the school from Avenue T to Fillmore Avenue.

“At night it’s like a race zone down here,” said Morrissey.

New York City public advocate Letitia James lent her support to the push for a sign in light of the Park Slope deaths when she spoke to the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association at its March 15 meeting.

“I was with the people in Park Slope. We should not lose any more children,” said James. “Crossing the street should not be a death sentence.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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