Since the beginning of the school year roughly 60 buses belonging to Brooklyn-based Seth Transportation have been parked on the Harris Avenue field in Inwood across from the Number Four School in the Lawrence district.
Thought to be a temporary situation, the field where community members have played multiple sports through the years, is now a torn up mess through debris littering the grounds and the once green grass looking like monsters trucks plowed through.
Standing outside at house on 26 Harris Avenue several Inwood residents gathered on Nov. 12, where four community members and two elected officials decried the situation that has them asking the question: Does the school district care about the people who support it with their tax dollar?
We love our school district, the education is as good as it gets, however we respectfully disagree with the issue of parking these buses in a residential area on a ballfield that is used for recreationally purposes,” said David Hance, president of the Inwood Civic Association.
Longtime Inwood resident Mary Macafity spoke for nearly 13 minutes detailing her issues with the buses being parked on Harris Avenue. From the time the buses parked on the field in august to now, Macafity noted that children were playing on the field and unceremoniously kicked off and the community was unaware of what was happening.
She said and this was told to the Herald that having the buses on the field was expected to be a temporary situation. “Informed it was an emergency situation, it’s now November and this situation has not been corrected and instead of being resolved it has gotten worse, Macafity said, noting the noise generated by the buses from morning to night and the traffic buildup with the drivers parking their cars in the roadway.
“The infrastructure of the neighborhood’s streets were never developed for his type of traffic, and we fear with the mud, dust, litter, that our drains will eventually back up, and flood the homes in the area,” she said.
“Dust like a dark cloud rising when cars and buses drive by, we cannot even open our windows in our homes for what was fresh air. Because of your disrespect to our community and quality of life in this area, we the residents are requesting for a full audit of the financial books of the Board of the Education, a copy of the proposed contract with Seth Transportation, a copy of the bid,," Macafity added.
Rev. Rodney Davis, another Inwood resident, noted what he called the “abrasive personalities” of several bus company employees wo he said has been disrespectful to residents, including one that allegedly took a swing at a community member. “Because of the loitering and loud talking of bus company employees the quiet and tranquil nature of this community has been absolutely and abruptly turned upside down,” he said, adding that this must be addressed.
Pete Sobol, who has been involved in the community for many years as a business owner and longtime board member of the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, is upset that no school district official spoke to the community. “You haven’t been a great neighbor,” he said, “no notification, no consideration for the neighbors not even to come over and give an explanation. That’s just wrong. It costs you nothing. It’s just being civil.”
State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) said the arrangement between the Lawrence School District and Seth Transportation is not benefiting the community. “This isn’t working, it’s not working for the people who live here, it’s not working for the people who are paying their taxes, who own their homes, who are entitled to the quality of life that they lived with for the past however many years, “she said, adding that will be vocal and ask for an immediate, emergency solution.
Saying that it was after Election Day, County Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont), who represents Inwood, noted thate he and Miller, a Democrat and Republican respectively, are united on this issue, and it does not make sense to take the only playing field of that size away from the community. “Does that look right to you,?” Solages asked and received several no’s in response. “It doesn’t look like the kids are playing soccer there, it looks like the school buses are playing soccer.”
Lawrence Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen said there are no plans to have the buses at the Harris Avenue field permanently and the district and Seth Transportation are actively seeking solutions to the problem. The buses parked in the field were parked at the high school on Nov. 12.
With remote learning and half the students coming for in-person instruction that solution would be evaluated. “We understand the neighbors concern and appreciate their patience as we work through this situation,” Pedersen said, emphasizing the situation is temporary.