Photo: Concern on School Street.
When Kelly Fanning heard Wednesday, Jan. 11 well-liked crossing guard James Marcantonio was hit and then hospitalized by a vehicle on School Street in front of the Burbank Elementary School, the mother of two who lives steps from the crosswalk knew it was time for the community to take action.
“[James] is a friend to everyone, he knows all the children and really looks after them,” said Fanning.
(A press release from the Belmont Police said Marcantonio suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the accident that occurred at 8:11 a.m. The driver was cited for not yielding for a person in a crosswalk.)
“If this could happen to him, it shows how dangerous the road is now,” said the mom of Reece Bundy and Mabel Fanning. “There recently have been three accidents before [Marcantonio] including another pedestrian, all happening in front of the school.”
Parents have pointed to the increase in pass-through traffic along School Street, how the crosswalk is just beyond a blind corner as traffic travels from Washington Street and the lack of traffic-calming devices leading to the crosswalk.
“I know that the town knows the yellow [warning] lights don’t work. It’s just another thing that lets drivers not pay attention to the crosswalk,” said Jimmy Busa, who was standing in for his fellow crossing guard.
Later Wednesday, Fanning and her husband, Red Bundy, began mobilizing their social media contacts to bring together parents, students and residents to demonstrate Thursday morning before school in support of better safety leading in both directions to the crosswalk.
“There are several things the town can do including put a curb along [the south side of] School Street up to the crosswalk and raise the crosswalk,” said Randolph Street’s Peter Dizikes, a parent, and a Precinct 1 Town Meeting member.
On a cloudy, chilly Thursday morning, Fanning brought colored poster board and Sharpies for students and parents to write out signs.
“Ten parents sent back messages that they would attend,” said Fanning. “That would be a good start.”
Soon, parents walking students to school came by and joined the growing numbers who carried signs – “Stay Alert and Slow Down” and “Kids Crossing” – and brought their voices and even cowbells (“More cowbells” advised one parent to the students ringing away).
By the beginning of the school day, more than 60 students and residents were loudly proclaiming their support to make the roadway and crosswalk safer.
“I hope that the [town] will see that there is a lot of people who want something to happen here. This is a serious safety issue that needs to be addressed,” said Fanning.