Sawyers Bay School principal Gareth Swete (left) and school
patrollers Ethan Aitcheson (9) and Olivia Goldsmith (9, at
right) keep an eye out for vehicles at the school gates on
Stevenson Ave, Sawyers Bay. Photo by Brenda Harwood.
Sawyers Bay School principal Gareth Swete is frustrated
by a lack of progress on solving safety concerns at the school
With many vehicles travelling too quickly along Stevenson
Ave, directly past the school entrance, there was a potential
danger to children - especially those using the crossing
outside school hours, Mr Swete told The Star.
''I feel strongly that the children are in danger, and that
we need to do something about it,'' Mr Swete said.
There had been ''near misses'' in the past, he said.
''Part of the problem is quite a few people drive from
Northeast Valley to Port Chalmers over the high road and they
end up coming straight past the school,'' Mr Swete said.
''It's a rural road, so they probably aren't expecting to
come across a school.''
The 92 Sawyers Bay School pupils use the crossing to get to
and from school, and are watched over by school patrollers at
these times, but the crossing is also used outside of school
times to access the playground. This is set to increase with
the building of a cycle training area in the school grounds
and a proposed childcare centre next door.
Although the crossing's signs and markings were upgraded in
mid-2013, following a safety review by the Dunedin City
Council, concerns remain for children's safety.
Mr Swete does not believe a blanket 40kmh speed limit in
school zones, proposed last week by school principals, would
be effective in the case of Sawyers Bay School because of its
''Even with the updated signage, people still come whizzing
However, a relatively simple solution - to install a ''raised
table'' at the crossing to force drivers to slow down - has
stalled due to a lack of available funding.
''I brought up the idea [of a raised table] 18 months ago. It
would be an effective, permanent fix for the problem,'' Mr
Despite a recent report by council staff, agreeing in
principle that a raised table would help address underlying
safety issues at the school gate, the estimated $6500 to
$7000 needed to build it was not available.
''We have been told that council would be happy to look into
installing a raised platform, if the school is prepared to
pay for it,'' Mr Swete said.
''We just don't have that kind of money. Every cent of our
budget is allocated to support the children.''
At its recent meeting, the Chalmers Community Board viewed a
report on the Stevenson Ave crossing and sympathised with the
frustration felt by Mr Swete at the situation. A resolution
was passed asking that the DCC agree to work in partnership
with the school to find a co-funding option.
Community board chairman Steve Walker told The Star he
applauded the efforts of Mr Swete to make the ''busy and
popular crossing area far less dangerous for children''.
''With a simple and cost-effective solution at hand, it seems
logical to act now, rather than when the horse has bolted.''
Dunedin City Council transportation engineer Diana Munster
said that council was aware of ongoing concerns with the
school crossing in Stevenson Ave, including a number of
''near misses'' children have had with vehicles on the road.
She agreed that installing a ''raised table'' could reduce
the risk by slowing traffic down, complementing measures
taken by the school, parents, police and the DCC.
''Unfortunately, at this stage, we do not have the funding
available to install a raised table here.''