With students returning to classrooms in droves this week for the start of the school year, the decision of Masterton District Council [MDC] to start resealing the Pownall St road surface on the first day back has copped criticism from parents, as well as raising safety concerns.
The road surface on Pownall St from the Renall St roundabout to where Villa St begins was left as loose chip-seal for several days with no road or pedestrian crossings marked out.
Pownall St is a busy thoroughfare during school drop off and pick up times with multiple schools and kindergartens in the vicinity, including Wairarapa College and Douglas Park School, while St Matthew’s Collegiate School is right in the middle of the stretch of street left with loose chip on the road surface.
St Matthew’s principal Kiri Gill said MDC contractors did notify the school of the project, but she questioned the timing of the work.
“Given these works were scheduled to start on the first day of the school year is ridiculous,” Gill said.
“The works, according to the note, were for a few days.”
Gill highlighted that the unmarked road surface had already resulted in a few hazards, with buses parking closer to gates and the lack of parking lines compelling parents to drive into the school.
With more traffic through the school grounds, there was an onsite safety risk to students as they moved back and forth across the campus, she said.
To help mitigate any safety issues, Gill said the school was “encouraging students to park their cars on another street and using another access which removes our line of sight when we are on bus duty”.
Families were also being encouraged to park on the school side of Pownall St so that students would not have to cross the road during the “few days” the work was happening.
“Why could those few days not be before the school term?” Gill asked.
An MDC spokesperson said the work to reseal the road was scheduled as part of normal road maintenance.
“The aim was to have this work completed before school resumed, but it was delayed by a day or so, due to contractor’s resourcing availability,” the spokesperson said.
After the Times-Age approached the council for comment yesterday, the MDC spokesperson advised that the loose chip is likely to have been swept away and road markings re-painted by this morning.
The spokesperson confirmed that the work started on Monday morning.
One parent claimed that the loose chip was still being laid at about 3pm that day, and noted that this was right at the time when students would need to use the crossing.