North Side School fence meeting slated for Nov. 19 following number of letters

Jed Hendrixson
The North Side School. (Photo courtesy East Williston School District)

The East Williston Board of Education will hold a public session to discuss the erection of a fence around the North Side School.

The meeting will take place at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Wheatley School.

Debates over the fence have gone on for months in front of the Board of Education and the Village of East Williston Board of Trustees.

The district is considering a six-foot fence near the property line, which would require a variance. A three-foot retaining wall on some parts of the property is also under consideration.

In letters throughout October addressed to East Williston Superintendent Elaine Kanas, concerns over the plans to construct the fence were raised by East Williston Mayor David Tanner, Fire Department Chief Patrick Theodore and Commissioner William McLean Jr. and building inspector Jared Mandel.

“The Village’s current concerns fall in three areas: safety; questions as to compliance with applicable codes, laws, rules and regulations; and clarification needed with certain parts of the proposal,” Tanner said.

The village Building Department has not yet received a formal submission to build the fence, Tanner’s letter states.

The village Fire Department is the primary agency for fire and emergency medical service calls to the North Side School, Theodore said.

The Fire Department’s concerns include the location of the fence and potential wall in relation to existing fire hydrants and their potential for obstruction, as well as openings in the fence and wall for vehicles and personnel.

The presence of a fence would hinder triage and victim treatment at the scene in the event of a mass casualty and ladder trucks would have an issue accessing the premises, Theodore said.

“Safe removal of occupants from the second floor would be nearly impossible,” Theodore said.

“It is our professional opinions that a retaining wall and fence erected for safety of the students can be accomplished with a less restrictive plan,” Theodore and McLean said.

Both the Fire Department and building inspector mention that the plans must meet the minimum requirements of the state’s Uniform Fire Prevention and Building codes.

Mandel said the drawings received from the school district required clarification. Points of clarification include grade changes, a protection plan for storm water runoff during and after construction, the presence and removal of trees not indicated in the plans, egress openings in the walls and latching or locking specifications for proposed swing gates.

The village, Fire Department and building inspector all requested meetings for further discussion.

Proponents of the fence, many parents of students who attend or have attended the school, contend that security measures like the fence would be an additional line of defense in case of an emergency. Critics have said that the fence would do little to prevent tragedies and be a blemish to the school’s and village’s aesthetics.

Superintendent Kanas said that the school district is in the process of scheduling a meeting with the Village of East Williston.

About the author

Jed Hendrixson

Jedidiah Hendrixson is reporter for Blank Slate Media covering New Hyde Park and the Willistons.
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