‘Safety zone’ lights in front of ARHS to remain until 9 p.m.


‘Safety zone’ lights in front of ARHS to remain until 9 p.m.
This safety zone sign is located in front of Algonquin Regional High School. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – The hours of a safety zone in front of Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) will remain.

The topic came up during the March 25 Select Board meeting. Back in 2021, the Select Board established a safety zone 700 feet in either direction of the ARHS entrance in which the speed limit would be lowered to 20 mph between 7 to 8:30 a.m. and 2 to 9 p.m.

Initially, the town proposed that the safety zone be in effect until 6 p.m., but that was extended until 9 p.m. after some board members and residents argued that it may not be late enough with evening performances and athletic events.

According to Traffic Safety Committee Chair Bill Pierce, a resident reached out about the safety zone lights with concerns that the lights were on too long, particularly in the afternoon to evening. In the resident’s letter that was read during the meeting, the resident said it made it harder for police to enforce and easy for drivers to ignore.

“There aren’t that many school events that go past 8 p.m.,” Pierce said.

Generally, school events are over before 8 p.m., he said. Select Board Chair Mitch Cohen said if he was driving past ARHS at 8:30 p.m. and there weren’t any events, he may think the lights were broken but he would still slow down.

“I think there’s some benefit in having the timing more closely pattern the regular use and not the exceptional use,” Cohen said.

Pierce said the committee reached out to school leaders, who didn’t have a recommendation. Police, he said, help with crowd control at events, but not necessarily with traffic control. Ultimately, the Traffic Safety Committee recommended that the safety zone hours be reduced to 7:30 p.m., subject to review after a year.

However, some Select Board members voiced concerns about changing the hours. Julianne Hirsh questioned whether the committee reached out to the neighborhood. She also said, if a school event ended at 8 p.m., by the time the students got in their car or were picked up, it may be about 8:30 p.m.

Laura Ziton said if the signs catch drivers’ attention and slow them down, her preference would be to keep it.

“I think that any time parents have asked for safety in the past, I think it’s a good thing to support, especially with the truck traffic that we have down there since Amazon came along and with the new student drivers and just in general, it’s an interesting area for traffic to come up over the hill,” said Lisa Maselli.

Pierce said it could be reviewed in a year, during which he would work with leaders to survey residents.

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