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Mom Says Manchester Streets Unsafe for Kids to Walk to School

Many more residents took to social media Wednesday to voice their frustrations with the state of town streets and sidewalks as children returned to school.

The following is an open Manchester resident Kristen Gordon sent to town and Board of Education officials on Wednesday, Feb. 13 2013 and posted on the Manchester Patch Facebook page

Dear Mr. Kisiel et al.,

I am writing to you as a concerned parent. I have two children that attend Manchester public schools. I am absolutely confounded by the decision of your office to open schools today considering the current condition of most sidewalks and streets in the town. 

The pictures I have attached were taken this morning at the bus stop. There are several students who use this bus stop [address removed]. As you can see, [address removed] has not cleared any part of the sidewalk, posing a very serious threat to the safety of these children. Please keep in mind that due to the amount of snow on the side of the roads, parents can not safely park on the street to wait for the bus.

I contacted your office yesterday afternoon with concern about the bus stop not being cleared and I was told that the town was working on making sure all bus stops were cleared and safe. I contacted the Manchester Police Department last night with my concern and I was told that they are allowing for leniency due to the amount of snow that must be removed. An officer was sent to speak with the homeowner, however, I was surprised when the supervisor I spoke with suggested that I keep my children home, or drop them off at school. 

I am very understanding of the situation the town is in due to Winter Storm Nemo, but I must say that opening the schools when a great part of the student population is unable to safely get to and from school is reckless. Is the Town of Manchester/Board of Education willing to step up and accept responsibility if a student is injured, or God forbid, killed because of this hasty decision to have school back in session?

At the very least, I expect that if Manchester schools are to remain open for the remainder of the week, the town will ensure that all students have either a safe way to walk or get on the bus. I appreciate your prompt attention to this issue.

Lou Lange February 13, 2013 at 10:03 PM
As a former resident of Manchester (Tolland Turnpike area), I fully agree with Ms. Gordon's letter. There is absolutely NO REASON why the town cannot put more workers, contractors etc. on snow removal. Children's safety is paramount!
jason edlund February 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM
m just as appalled. the street that my kids bus stop is on has side walks that are not shoveled. at all. you have to walk into parker st with your children to get them to the bus stop because homeowners decide they dont want to do the work to remove the snow from their sidewalks
Wendy Weiss Videll February 14, 2013 at 02:45 AM
i agree that the schools should not have opened until all the sidewalks were cleared. we chose to drive our son to school as most of the walk to and at the bus stop were not cleared and most of the streets in our spruce street neighborhood are only plowed to a single car width so there is no place to park a car. further more, many families in this area do not drive and do not have a choice to drive their kids and rely on the bus. it is certainly a safety concern that was ignored.
Dawn Murphy February 14, 2013 at 03:43 AM
I am also concerned about our bus stop however we don't even have sidewalks. Typically the kids wait on the grass. Now they must walk a short distance in the road on a moderately traveled road (which is also at the bottom of a small hill with limited visibility) and can wait at the end of a front walk. It is not great on a good day but with snow is very dangerous. I wish it could be moved to the less traveled side roads, especially when you have kindergarten children.
Frank February 14, 2013 at 10:08 AM
I hate to by cynical but it seems clear to me from my experiences living in town for many winters that when the big snow comes Manchester is not going to spend the money to clear it all. My street is one lane and I am pretty confident that it will be that way until the snow melts. I believe that this is the dangerous price we pay for living in such a "budget conscious" community. It seems to me that the snow removal process is more guided by cost awareness than safety. I think it will be weeks before nature clears our sidewalks and roads.
Frank February 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM
In fairness to Dr Kiesel he isn't in charge of the people who clean our roads of snow, that is the job of the town side. Do you know whether or not the PD actually went to the homeowner? That seems dubious to me. When is the last time that anyone has seen a town snow removal service picking up snow? I saw one vehicle getting snow early tuesday morning at the intersection of broad and the turnpike but nothing since and I doubt I'll see another. Now this article may mean that the specific areas that are brought to media attention may be cleaned but otherwise it's going to be spring rain that does the work. I thought we had a state of emergency and that we would be reimbursed 75% by the feds for our snow removal costs, did we not want to pay the 25%, do we not have the staff?
Nutmegger February 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Do none of these parents own shovels? In the amount of time it takes to photograph the bus stops and write letters to send off, you could've had the thing cleared yourselves. Where's our Yankee independence and self-sufficiency?
Karen Schaefer Claing February 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Never mind the kids who take the bus. How about the kids that have to walk? My granddaughter had to walk in the street, very unsafe, due to sidewalks not being cleared. Someone has to make homeowners responsible for clearing their walks and keeping all pedestrians safe.
tina bourke February 14, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I like the article in the paper where the Mayor hired kids to do the clean up of sidewalks ect in Waterbury. They had hundreds line up for the jobs too! If we did it that way, practical, then you would get people on here screaming union busting or child labor. he, he!!!!!
christiane obrien February 14, 2013 at 03:09 PM
What ever happened to people pitching in - really we are in this together and wish anyone complaining that they weren't personally shoveled out to their satisfaction immediately pick up a shovel, drive a plow, lend a helping hand. If you think it is unsafe for you child to walk to school then drive them yourself or keep them home - if it was safe enough for you to be out there photographing piles of snow then you can drop your kids off at the door. Yes home owners have 24 hours to shovel but when a blizzard hits as fast as it did, lend a hand.
Deb February 14, 2013 at 03:09 PM
She should have taken the time she spent snapping photo's and writing to Dr. Kissel and knocked on the doors of the neighbors who didn't clear the sidewalk. That's what my husband did Tuesday night when the sidewalks leading to the bus stop hadn't been cleared. Sidewalks got cleaned up pretty quick after that
Yvonne Zemanek February 14, 2013 at 03:48 PM
My husband took a walk with his snowblower, to our daughter's bus stop, the night before school would be back in session, to be sure she had clear sidewalks to walk on safely.
Mallory lavigne February 14, 2013 at 03:56 PM
I hope this is not from one of the same parents i was reading about the other day on the Manchester patch posts. Because just the other day half of them were upset the schools were not open. And basically complained about being home with their kids. Suck it up and clean it up. Why wait around...help thy neighbor.
Kristen Gordon February 14, 2013 at 04:54 PM
I was not one of those parents that complained about schools not being open. I cleared my own property, and would gladly help a neighbor clear theirs. This homeowner does not usually clear their walk; individual parents can't be responsible for clearing every unshoveled sidewalk in Manchester so that their children can get to school safely. I have one highschooler and one kindergartner that use this bus stop. It should be pointed out that the highschool stop used to be a few blocks away from this site, but was recently changed due to a pedestrian being killed while crossing an intersection close by. Obviously it is not safe for ANYONE to be standing or walking in the street, especially when most roads in town are half the width they should be. If homeowners cleared the sidewalks in a timely manner (and four days should be suficient) this would not be an issue. I did keep my children home from school yesterday, and I let the schools know why. I would keep them home again if it was still unsafe, but this is not an option for many parents in Manchester. Personally I can't drop off/pick up my children from school everyday indefinitely because I work full time. This wasn't written for only my children, it was written for every Manchester student, especially the ones who have to walk. This is not about helping a neighbor or keeping kids home/driving them to school, it is about the responsibility the Board of Ed and the Town of Manchester has to keep ALL students safe.
barbara petrone February 15, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Although most homeowners and businesses have cleared the sidewalks, there are still those who have not and it is not safe for kids to walk to school/bus stops. So, I am driving my grandkids - but this morning at 11:00am I was going up Slater Street and came upon 5 town trucks working with a state DOT truck and a Manchester cruiser clearing section of Slater between light at Best Buy up to Buckland Hills Dr. Why would the town allow 5 town trucks to clear area around a commercial area when so many intersections in town are clogged. People are trying to cross,at intersections that have not been cleared. We have kids in town crossing at intersections where road lanes have been reduced and drivers are taking chances passing. The majority of homeowners and businesses have done a good job, but the town and state (Route 6/44) are nowhere to be seen - well, go up to the mall area - and you will see where public works are putting their efforts.
Mark LeClair February 20, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Can't wait to see how you vote on budget increases this year....since you want to see an open checkbook of spending Mr. Lange.
Mark LeClair February 20, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Appalled Mr. Edlund? How big of a stick should we use to whack the elderly, infirm, handicapped or otherwise unable residents to get out and shovel? And what about those who are physically overwhelmed and don't have access to a fancy snowblower or the money to hire extra help? I'm sure you thought about all of this during your shock and awe.

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