For about a month, there has not been a posted speed limit sign outside Broadalbin-Perth Elementary School because the old signage had technical glitches that were causing confusion. The district’s superintendent, as well as officials in the Town of Perth, are worried about the safety of the more than 900 students who attend the school.
The district has plans to install replacement signs in the coming days, but those signs will not have the electronic light that provides the extra warning that the district wants.
“It is a very busy road, and there are oftentimes children that cross the road to walk to ball fields or the Perth Bible [Church],” said Stephen Tomlinson, superintendent of Broadalbin-Perth Central School District. “There have been a lot of close calls. There was actually a student a number of years ago that was hit by a car. Thankfully she’s still with us today, and she’s doing fine. But it has been a concern for the Broadalbin-Perth school district for a number of years.”
Tomlinson said the district first began lobbying the Fulton County Highway and Facilities Department for speed limit signage in front of the school, located on County Highway 107 in Perth, in 2016. But that request was ultimately denied, he said.
“The response that we got from the county is this: They feel there is substantial line of sight. In other words, it’s a very straight road, and you can see for quite a ways. That is true from one end. But from the other end, you have a very busy intersection off of Route 30,” Tomlinson said. “Then you drive down a dip, and it comes back up. So that line of sight is not as good as the line of sight if you are coming from the other direction.”
Fulton County Superintendent of Highways and Facilities Mark Yost did not return a phone call seeking comment on Thursday. It’s worth noting that although there is not a posted speed limit, there are signs declaring the stretch of road as a school zone.
Without support from the county, Tomlinson said the school district paid to put up its own signage in front of the elementary school more than two years ago. The signage the district put up showed a 25-mile-per-hour limit, but that limit was only stated to be in effect when the lights on the perimeter of the signage were illuminated.
The problem was the signage had some technical problems, the superintendent said.
“It was an electronic sign, meaning it was just a normal speed sign, but, on the outside perimeter of it, it would light up during school hours,” he said. “We were having problems with the software and sometimes it would be on and sometimes it would be off, and I think that frustrated people.”
Because of those glitches, the Fulton County Sheriff’s office told the school district the signage needed to come down because it was causing confusion, Tomlinson said.
“Just within the last month, we were asked to completely take down the sign because we were told that it was confusing to people, and there may be an issue with the law enforcement enforcing [the speed limit] because it was confusing,” Tomlinson said.
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino confirmed that officers cannot issue speeding tickets if speed limit signs aren’t posted. He also said the technical glitches effectively rendered the signs useless.
All of this means that there is currently no posted speed limit outside the school.
Town Justice Wayne McNeil brought the issue up at Perth’s Town Board meeting on Thursday. The Perth Town Hall is adjacent to the elementary school, and the temporary signs will satisfy his suggestion that a non-electronic sign be put up declaring that the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit will be enforced during set school hours marked on the sign.
“The school zone is unprotected,” McNeil said.
Town Supervisor Greg Fagan said the situation is dangerous.
“It’s not marked like it should be,” Fagan said. “And in my opinion that makes it unsafe.”
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.