Double parking persists at P.S. 81

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Even with the threat of a $115 ticket, double-parking outside the Robert J. Christen School (P.S. 81) remains prevalent. Last week near dismissal time, a line of cars stretched down Riverdale Avenue starting at West 256th Street almost all the way to West 254th Street. Parents say they just don’t have another option.

“We were here half an hour early, and there was still nowhere to park,” one mother said on Oct. 29, while her toddler slept in the car.

Michelle Soriano, the mother of a first-grade student at P.S. 81, echoed her predicament. She said it is often too difficult to park far away and walk to the school with a second small child in tow.

“He’s a stage-five clinger. He’s my leech,” she said of her younger child. “So the convenience of parking right in front is worth it.”

Ms. Soriano said she is worried about getting a ticket, but she takes the risk of double-parking, anyway.

She is right to be worried. The 50th Precinct’s Community Affairs spokesman, Officer Juan Ventura, said in a phone interview that the double-parking on Riverdale Avenue causes traffic problems and endangers people. He explained that the 50th sends officers to issue summons when they judge the situation at P.S. 81 has gotten particularly bad.

“It goes smoother for a while, but we see it’s going bad again, so we go back up,” he said.

Principal Anne Kirrane did not answer an interview request for this article. But Officer Ventura conceded that P.S. 81 parents are in a tough situation.

“It’s part of living in the city. It’s rough,” he said. “But people need to find a way [to park legally] because we have to do our part to keep it safe.”

Officer Ventura said in the morning, when parents are just dropping off their children and leaving quickly, the double-parking is not as much of a problem. The real problem is in the afternoons, when parents wait upwards of 10 to 15 minutes for their children to be dismissed.

He advised parents to park behind the school on Mosholu Avenue or on one of the quieter side streets. He suggested that if parents are desperate, they can double-park on one of those side streets.

“Do a quick double-park, go and come back,” he said. That keeps Riverdale Avenue relatively safe.

Katya Avinovsky said she sometimes double-parks while picking up her third grader, but opted to walk to the school on Oct. 29. She had another idea for dealing with the double-parking.

“Maybe dismissal times should be staggered,” she said. “They give 15 to 10 minutes for everyone to get out of school. It’s crazy.”

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