Monday, March 29, 2010
Help Me Howard: School Gate
Who wants to wake up to honking horns at 6:00 in the morning? It's happening to some residents in Hialeah Gardens after the nearby school diverted traffic through their neighborhood. Can Howard ease this traffic jam? 7's Patrick Fraser has the story.
WSVN -- The people at Interior Gardens moved here for some very good reasons.
Luis Alamela: "It's very family-oriented. It's very quiet."
Luis should have said quiet most of the time, because this is his morning wake up call.
Luis Alamela: "There's already cars lining up at 6:30 in the morning, honking their horns."
Luis took a video of bumper-to-bumper traffic, brought to you by parents dropping their kids off at Hialeah Gardens High School.
Luis Alamela: "We have traffic jams, we have school buses cutting through our community at 20 miles per hour instead of five miles per hour. It's like opening your front door so they can cut through your living room."
The drivers are cutting through, using Northwest 94th Avenue as a shortcut.
Then, when school begins, it's nice and quiet, because a gate that crosses the road is closed and locked, just like the neighbors were promised it would be all the time.
Luis Alamela: "Originally, when we had the meeting that this school was going to be built, the issue was that they were never going to open this gate, only in case of emergencies."
The shortcut through the neighborhood is a city street. The gate at the end was put there by the school district, and every morning and afternoon, a school employee unlocks the gate, inviting traffic and trouble into the neighborhood.
Luis Alamela: "It's creating kids skipping from school into our community. They spray painted a wall already, three fires: it's escalating."
A neighbor saw one kid setting a book bag on fire by a car and put it out before it blew up the car. Luis and his friends then put up a "Do not enter" sign on 94th Avenue to deter drivers. That was ignored.
So the neighbors contacted the school district and principal.
Luis Alamela: "Since then, they don't get back to us, they don't return our calls. Meanwhile, keep opening the gate."
They continue to open the gate, and since Luis is the association president, he continues to get calls from his neighbors.
Luis Alamela: "Some of our neighbors work at night in the airport or security. They can't sleep. They're constantly calling my house or knocking on my doors."
The neighbors are upset, the street is filled with traffic, and no one in the Miami Dade School System will help them.
Luis Alamela: "I decided to call Help Me Howard, because I keep calling the school. They don't do nothing for me."
Well Howard, legally, what can Luis and his community do to keep the gate closed?
Howard Finkelstein: "The gate is on school property, and the school can open it or close it whenever they want. However, the road belongs to the city, and they can block it, barricade or put their own fence to prevent cars from using this street as a shortcut."
When we talked to the Miami Dade School District, they said they opened the gate because it alleviates congestion around other parts of the school.
When we asked about the congestion in the neighborhood, they said, "You can't put a price on student safety."
So we got Yioset De La Cruz, the mayor of Hialeah Gardens, involved. That worked. The school has now agreed to keep the gate locked permanently as soon as this school year ends.
Great news for Luis and his neighbors who can now wake up when they want to instead of when these drivers force them to.
Luis Alamela: "We are grateful to Channel 7 for helping us find a solution in our community."
Patrick Fraser: "Glad we could help. And you know, Howard and I, we don't get problems solved with a magic wand. We aren't geniuses; we just refuse to take no for an answer. Be persistent. It works for us. It worked in this case. It will work for you."
All your roads seemed to be paved with problems? Need a gateway to help? Unlock a solution with us. Even if someone tries to throw up a roadblock, we will find a way to take the right turn.
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