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Letter: Resident Expresses 'Shock' & 'Dismay' on Ridge Busing Issue

Homestead Village resident reacts to Board of Education meeting on Monday, Feb. 13.

Editor's Note: The following letter comments on to continue directing Ridge High School buses behind the Cedar Hill School. School officials have said the rerouting has alleviated morning traffic congestion at the intersection of Lake Road and South Finley Avenue, the main entrance to the high school.

Dear Editor,

We are writing to express our shock and utter dismay over the events that unfolded at the February 13 meeting at The Homestead Village residents turned out in full force with compelling facts about the problem afflicting us– the rerouting of Ridge buses through our small, quiet neighborhood.

Many of us spoke clearly and emotionally describing the unsafe conditions that the added bus and uninvited car traffic has brought since this “trial period” began. Two incidents were described that occurred this past week where children were almost hit by drivers improperly passing school buses on their way to Cedar Hill School. Both incidents happened only once this additional traffic was directed to our streets.

Cars have always driven too quickly through our neighborhood. We have a 25 m.p.h. limit that has never been enforced. The rerouting seems to have provided an open invitation to all drivers to use our neighborhood as a cut through to Cedar Hill. Why isn’t this being monitored and enforced due to the added volume? Clearly, we as a neighborhood have a right to be upset. We also have the right to know our streets are safe. This has been taken away from us. This keeps us up at night and worried each morning a loved one enters the neighborhood streets during the Ridge morning rush.

What we have found disturbing is that this decision seems to have happened in a vacuum — behind closed doors without any details provided to residents. We all turned out in good faith to the meeting last night, believing out thoughts would be given consideration. To our horror and shock, before the public forum even began, Ridge High school Principal Howlett stood before us all and claimed “the Ridge rerouting trial has been a success and will continue!” How could this be stated? We had not had our voices heard. Isn’t this the point of BOE meetings open to the public? By doing so, this very forum was turned into a sham, proving the opinions and feelings of residents don’t really matter, proving that the well-being of residents and especially the children of Homestead Village are not a priority. This was and continues to be an irresponsible decision! We don’t dispute that there is a problem with arrival at Ridge but our neighborhood and Cedar Hill should not be the default solution.

We were pleased by some of the discussion that took place following our comments. Suggestions were made, alternative options were asked to be explored, safety urged to be recognized. A number of BOE members publicly agreed. And yet we were then informed, that the administration had agreed to continue the rerouting of buses. Who exactly is the administration? Many residents clamored from the audience for the BOE to take a vote. Many BOE members echoed this as well and in fact one member referred to this “trial” as a failure. Yet this did not occur and a poor decision was upheld — to continue to endanger the residents of Homestead Village. Fingers were pointed as to who is to blame and who can really do anything about the situation. We are angry and confused.

One BOE  member suggested adding sidewalks to our already narrow roads as if that would solve the issue of safety. This made us only wonder — if there are funds to add sidewalks to all of the streets in Homestead Village, shouldn’t there be funds to create other entry/exits to Ridge? Wouldn’t that be a better use of funds? Our initial hope that we had been heard, our concerns recognized and would be acknowledged were shattered!

So we ask, what do we do now? Can someone tell us, what is the point of the public forums of BOE meetings when clearly decisions have been made and  we are only being provided with facetime as required by BOE laws. Credibility has been lost by last evening’s concluding events. Trust has been lost. Anger has been incited.  BUT the troops have been rallied. Homestead Village will once again come together and carry on what has become our personal fight to reverse this decision and give us the peace of mind that when we or our children are on the streets in our neighborhood each morning that they are safe. Don’t you think that is what should be a priority?

Respectfully,

Charlie and Jennifer White

65 Winding Lane

Basking Ridge

Maurice Marvi February 15, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Routing the buses through this neighborhood may not be a good choice. These are narrow streets, with a lot of pedestrian traffic during peak bus travel time. Wouldn't routing the buses along the edge of the playing fields to the north of the school, passing the Police department and entering Collyer (A wide street with limited residential exposure) work better? Of course, some coordination with the Saint James Traffic, and the students who park along the road should be done, but it could work.
BRER February 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM
they should consider using the route of the Town Hall. There are not many cars there during that time and the student just have to walk across the field...
BRER February 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I want to add that I was there this morning and the buses are going much slower than the speeding limit, possibly at 10-15 mph, to my dismay since the speeding limit is 25!
Maurice Marvi February 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Actually, the buses with a minor upgrade to the path that runs between the North Eastern Corner of the school parking lot to the Southeastern corner of the Town Hall site could do it tomorrow, without having the kids cross the street.
Miles February 16, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I don't understand why everyone continues to refer to Homestead Village as a quiet neighborhood. Cedar Hill school has been there for years so busses have been going through that neighborhood for a very long time. I agree that sending all the Ridge High busses through there is a bad idea, but can we at least be more honest with the facts? The real solution, which I hope this ridiculous experiment forces, is to construct an additional way in and out of the high school. Anywhere.....down to Maple, over to Collyer, doesn't matter, but it's time we bite the bullet and build it. I grew up in this town and have attended all the schools so I see what the population explosion has done to our schools, and fully realize that the current method IS NOT WORKING.

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