2011-10-21 / Top Stories

Traffic Light Has Personal Meaning For Sanders

By Miriam Rosenberg


Councilman James Sanders Jr. is joined by Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, Democratic district leader Valerie West, PS 197 Parents Association President Johnny Gresham and parent leaders at the unveiling of a new traffic light on Hicksville Road and Beach 9 Street. Councilman James Sanders Jr. is joined by Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, Democratic district leader Valerie West, PS 197 Parents Association President Johnny Gresham and parent leaders at the unveiling of a new traffic light on Hicksville Road and Beach 9 Street. Forty years ago a kindergartener was run down by a car at the corner of Hicksville Road and Beach 9 Street. On Tuesday morning that young victim’s brother, now a man, joined community leaders to dedicate a much-needed traffic light at that intersection.

On a morning he called “bittersweet,” Councilman James Sanders Jr., joined by neighborhood parents and area leaders, officially unveiled a traffic light in an area Sanders called an educational hub, with three schools in the immediate area.

It is rare when a traffic light has great meaning to a person. This traffic light has great meaning to me,” said Sanders. “In this spot approximately 40 years ago my brother [Arthur] was killed by a car. He was a kindergarten student at this school. We were going here [PS 197] and a crossing guard was distracted and a kindergarten student tried to make the street and the street won. My family never recovered from it. Never. So I am really grateful that no other family has that type of pain.”

Joining the councilman was Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who lives near the school.

“This is an example of government working for the people,” said Goldfeder. He added, “As a father raising two children [within a block from the school] I’m happy to say that my children today are safer. The children in all the schools are safer and our parents can go to sleep a little easier tonight knowing that this school and this neighborhood are that much safer.”

The installation of traffic lights on all four corners of Hicksville Road was the result of years of work by residents to make the area safe.

“We did petitions, made call after call after call,” said Johnny Gresham, the parents association president for PS 197 who has seven children, including one in the school. “Thanks to Mr. Sanders, thanks to all of the parents that stood out here to get signatures so we could take it to Mr. Sanders and thanks to all the parents that participated.”

Sanders’ office had been working for the lights for at least six years. The Department of Transportation did several traffic studies.

“At that time they said that it did not justify it,” said Sanders. “We’ve had them out several times. They have done several traffic studies. I think it [the installation] had to do with the convergence of all of these schools. So many schools are here that not to have it here is begging for more tragedy. Tragedy for my family is enough. But thank God we will avoid tragedy for other families.”

Sanders went on to say that the light’s installation was not just important for his family, but for everyone’s family.

“For years we’ve been fighting this issue and sadly the city was slow to get it, but I’m glad that they finally got it,” said Sanders. He added, “It’s because of your efforts year after year, fighting the city, getting to my office, getting to the assembly person’s office, getting to all of these offices that we finally have a traffic light here,” said Sanders.

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I was an elementary school

I was an elementary school student at P.S. 197 when Arthur Sanders was hit by the car. My mother, Joyce Randal, had previously worked as a Crossing Guard at P.S. 39, and was coming to school to pick me up, either for lunch or after school, when she happened upon the accident. She immediately jumped in to assist by diverting traffic around the accident scene, all the while instructing me to not look at the sad scene before us. After all these years I've never forgotten the name of Arthur Sanders, and all this time later, want to express my heartfelt and sincere condolences to his family. May he rest in peace. Bari Randal FRHS 1974


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