Dear Editor:

On a 2018 October school morning at 8:58, as students/employees/parents arrived at the North Bergen Preschool, a pedestrian crossing Boulevard East was fatally injured by a vehicle traveling toward, and in close proximity to the Preschool road.

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The Hudson County Sheriff reported “The area of the crash, at that time of day, has a high amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the area due to the pre-school located in the area”.

In 2014, North Bergen-Hudson County admitted they didn’t possess any records indicating a traffic safety study was ever conducted at the Preschool location.
I notified officials of the following dangers:
1- No traffic control devices (traffic lights or signs), where the Preschool road intersects Boulevard East.
2- The Preschool road is too narrow to accommodate 2-way traffic.
3- No sidewalk present, resulting in pedestrians walking on the Preschool road.

In 2015, NB-HC engineers conducted a study.
Their report recommended widening the preschool roadway and installing a sidewalk; neither was implemented.
Their report made no mention of the lack of traffic control devices at the busy intersection.

In 2016 NB-HC told the State “no incidents or accidents have been reported” in the vicinity of the Preschool.
The Director of the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety said otherwise:
“From 2003 – 2015, there have been 48 crashes that have occurred within 500′ of the intersection of JFK Blvd (CR693) and Palisade Ave (CR719), with 1 taking place in the school parking lot.”

North Bergen claimed that a school crossing guard is present at “critical times” at this intersection.

For 20+ years the 17 North Bergen Preschool trailers (TCUs) have violated important safety, educational and environmental regulations. Following is just a sampling of the problems:

The TCUs had just one, not the required two emergency exits.
This CONFIRMED violation continued 6 years after 2 Preschool TCUs burned down in a fire, yet the NB Schools Superintendent outrageously and callously denied the violation.

For 18 years the NJ DOE failed to conduct annual safety inspections of the TCUs, as required by State regulations.

N.J.A.C. 6A:26-3.14(g) allows TCUs to be used for a MAXIMUM of 5 years – these TCUs are 20+ years old!

North Bergen officials are currently misspending the $65M that voters approved for a school realignment plan to acquire Hi-Tech HS, thereby enabling ALL the NB preschoolers to attend their neighborhood elementary schools.

We need Braddock Park for recreation, not for schools, condos or City Hall.

Tell Nick Sacco and the Board of Education to stop jeopardizing lives and move the preschoolers out of their decrepit, unsafe trailers and location and into permanent, better and safer facilities.

Robert Walden

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