Everything Bremerton: Working together for school zone safety

Most people would expect that school safety, and school zone safety, would be an automatic priority on everybody’s list. Most would assume that everything that can be done is being done to ensure school zones are as safe as they can be for the children of our community that rely on them nearly every single day in and around the school year.

Recently I joined up with a concerned group of Bremerton citizens in my neighborhood who had started a Facebook page and were engaging in conversations about safety issues in and around the Naval Avenue Early Learning Center. These concerns included crosswalks that were so worn down they were not as visible to drivers as they could be, speeding, drivers not stopping at the crosswalks when pedestrians were waiting, drivers cutting through side streets near the school to avoid stoplights, school parking lot flow in and around bus areas and surrounding side street traffic issues.

A couple of us, from this neighborhood group, attended the City Council District 5 meeting on May 2, where I was able to bring the issues to the attention of Mayor Patty Lent who was also at the meeting. On May 11, I received a very nice email from the mayor to let me know she had contacted Capt. Tom Wolfe at the Bremerton Police Department and Mr. Jim Orton at the city Public Works Department about how to address and correct the situation.

In the past two weeks I have received frequent, and much appreciated updates, from the mayor herself, her assistant, Capt. Wolfe and Mr. Orton about their collective efforts and progress in resolving some of the issues. I am very happy to say that the police department emphasis patrols in the school zone have been occurring with more frequency, traffic measures on Naval Avenue are in place to collect traffic data and on Wednesday, May 18, the crosswalks at 10th Street and Naval Avenue, Eighth Street and Naval Avenue and 10th Street and Olympic Avenue were brightly and freshly painted.

Nearly all of the communications between the city department heads, the mayor and our neighborhood group were copied or forwarded to Bremerton School District Superintendent Lester "Flip" Herndon. The city could and did assist us in solving the issues in areas the city is responsible for. The issues with traffic in and around the school parking lot and bus area are the responsibility of the school district and after nearly three years of ongoing discussions with neighbors, parents, the PTA and staff, they have yet to bring forward any enforceable solutions to the problems.

The Naval Avenue Neighbors and Parents for Traffic Safety group would very much like to publicly thank Mayor Lent, Capt. Wolfe, Mr. Orton, the Public Works employees involved and the Bremerton Police Department traffic officers for being an important part of making our neighborhood and community just a little bit safer for everyone.

Going forward, I will never again assume that safety issues are an automatic priority. Services currently exist within our city and our school district to ensure school zone safety standards are enforced and met. As citizens, it is our civic duty to call attention to safety issues that need to be addressed and to also be a working part of the solution. Organizations that are not stepping up to their responsibility to students and the community to be a part of the solution need to start doing a much better job beginning right now.

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