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  • The Rev. Barbara Ballenger

Rector's Note: Sometimes the solution is a complete change of direction.-8.31.23

One of the things I’m looking forward to with the start of our tenants’ programming in a few weeks is the sound of children. The voices of Kid View’s preschoolers at play in the play area below drifts up through my window in the afternoons. Children singing and learning lines can be heard during Rooted Tree Youth Theater’s rehearsals in the parish hall. It’s lovely.

In addition to being places of worship and gathering for parishioners, church buildings are community assets, places where neighbors can find outside programming for their children, or food for their cupboards, rooms to hold meetings or a lovely hall for weddings or birthday parties.

That comes with its challenges as well, parking and traffic flow being chief among them. This summer we worked and reworked ideas to reduce the afternoon lineup of cars during the afternoon times when Kid View lets out and Rooted Tree starts up. The line gets particularly long at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Should everyone park and drop their kids off? Should the driveway be widened? Should the program times be changed? Nothing seemed to address the whole problem, and we went back to the drawing board several times. And then in a recent conversation where all the parties were around the table, someone made a suggestion that none of us had considered.

What if we reversed direction? What if we made the exit the entrance, and the entrance the exit during those very congested times? What if we turned the whole problem on its head?

It was a startling idea, one that seemed to address all the concerns, and which immediately led us out into the parking lot to envision it, walk it through and talk it through. We left the meeting with a proposal to put before the wardens and staff, which we then adapted further with their input.

Starting Sept. 11 when Kid View and Rooted Tree begin their fall programming, all cars entering St. Peter’s on weekdays between the hours of 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. will be directed to enter the parking lot off Pleasant Ave. and exit down the driveway with a right turn onto North Easton Road. During that time, we will cone off the parking spaces along the white fence to create a safe walkway where children can be picked up and dropped off, accompanied by their respective Kid View or Rooted Tree staff.

People who need to park will be asked to do so at the top of the drive or in the spaces on the other side of the parking lot. This will also allow room for a passing lane so that cars can pull out to the left once they’ve dropped their kids off. , and then merge into an exit line going out the driveway onto Easton. It’s our hope that this pattern will allow a smooth exit, rather than a backup behind a bottleneck.

During the hours when we are reversing traffic flow, we will be placing large professional signage at our entrance and exit so that people know where to go. Our tenants’ will be alerting their drivers of the new traffic pattern.

Parishioners and other visitors who will be parked in our lot during those times will be directed to park either at the top of the driveway or on the east side of the drive. We will be moving some of the designated spots, such as my reserved space, to that side so that cars are not blocking the temporary walkway for children between 2:30 and 4:30. During that period, please note that the most highly congested period will be at 3 p.m. and at 4 p.m. So please continue to plan accordingly as you visit the church in the afternoon.

Our traditional traffic pattern (entering off North Easton Road and exiting onto Pleasant) will be in place before and after this 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. time period, as well as on the weekends and during our Sunday services. And parking spaces along the white fence will be available at those times as well. When in doubt follow the new signage.

Our hope is that by temporarily reversing direction during these high-use times, we will avoid a long backup in our driveway and on Easton Road, where people had to wait several minutes to enter the parking lot. With this new approach, the new line of cars entering the parking lot will allow for immediate pickup and drop off as well as parking. And there will be some space to pass, and then merge into a single exit line.

Changing direction, even temporarily, is never easy. It will require all of us to be patient, gracious, understanding and forgiving as we try out a new idea, designed to keep our visiting children safe, and our traffic flow calm and smooth.

Parish leaders will be monitoring the traffic patterns for the first few weeks to see how this new idea works, and help people understand where they must go.

Meanwhile, please share any questions or concerns that you have with me, or with the wardens, Linda Toia,; Dave Kipphut; or Mike Reeve,

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