Santa Monica Ave. School Crosswalk Officially Sanctioned

by on October 2, 2014 · 2 comments

in Culture, Education, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing

Students, parents and politicos celebrate with ribbon cutting. Councilman Ed Harris is kneeling. Principal Marco Drapeau is in green shirt.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Officially “Opens” the OB Elementary Crosswalk 

By Matthew Wood

The crosswalk outside of Ocean Beach Elementary School that has been a decade in the making finally got a proper introduction on Wednesday.

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Ed Harris speaks to the crowd.

City Councilman Ed Harris was on hand for a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony with OB Elementary Principal Marco Drapeau and parents of the school’s students. They used the opportunity to tout next week’s National Walk to School Day with a pre-class assembly.

“We’re trying to promote walking and biking to school,” Harris said. “In order to do that you gotta have safe routes. All these things have been lacking for years.”

The crosswalk – located on Santa Monica Avenue between Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ebers Street – has actually been in place since last school year. But after the battle waged on for years before that, nobody is blaming the school if they want to take some time to celebrate its arrival.

“It’s been the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes work by a lot of people before my time,” Drapeau said. Then, putting his fingers a few inches apart, he added, “I have a file this thick with all the correspondence over the years.”

The ordeal started sometime around when the school expanded to house kindergarten classes across the street. For anyone who has been on that stretch of Santa Monica, you have probably seen how fast cars can go. Parents were fearful of their children’s safety – and with good reason, as there were a number of incidents with vehicles.

But the city bumbled along. Workers came to paint lines on the street, only to paint over them a short time later because the area wasn’t up to city regulations for a crosswalk.

“It shouldn’t take that long. What’s more important than kids?” Harris said.

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Joseph “Moondoggie” Pina addresses the gathering.

In the meantime, a group of concerned parents started volunteering as crossing guards. That includes Joseph “Moondoggie” Pina, who has been leading the volunteer charge along with fellow parent Wayne Simard.

Moondoggie said he’s happy to finally see a tangible benefit of his hard work.

“It’s not my pretend crosswalk anymore. It’s for real,” he said. “I’m really happy for the moms with strollers. I used to watch them struggle to get over the curb and across the street.”

Suzy Reid is one of the parents at the forefront of the fight for a crosswalk. She said the ceremony gives a sense of validation to the cause.

“It feels really nice to have our OB crosswalk acknowledged and know that people are paying attention to our safety needs,” she said.

Harris couldn’t help but take the time to get a little political with city issues. But we’ll let it slide, especially since he was up at the crack of dawn (or at least 7:15 a.m.) to make the appearance.

“It’s the little things,” he said. “Not stadiums, not convention centers. We’re talking about safe routes for kids. That’s what we pay taxes for.”

In the end, it’s all in the best interest of the kids who will be using the crosswalk – hopefully for generations to come.

“It’s not just keeping our kids safe, but future kids. It can really have a lasting impact on the neighborhood,” Reid said. “It really helps us promote a walking community.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Wayne Simard October 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for the story Matt & Thanks for Volunteering as a Crossing Guard as well! :)

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Avatar moondawgy October 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for the excellent journalism also as a true professional. Your time in the front lines is appreciated by all of us at OBE keep up the good work.

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