, Newburyport, MA

May 10, 2013

Motorists who ignore parking signs may face fines

Police urge caution after youth struck trying to cross near Fuller Field

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURYPORT — Police are reminding motorists to follow parking signs on a congested stretch of one of Newburyport’s busiest streets, and say they are ready to start issuing fines to those who don’t, after a 10-year-old boy was struck by a car late Tuesday afternoon while trying to cross Low Street near Fuller Field.

The victim received minor injuries and was transported to Anna Jaques Hospital for evaluation, according to City Marshal Thomas Howard. He was one of hundreds of young athletes inside the field when the accident occurred. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but Howard said the presence of many parked cars near an opening from the mainly fenced-off field can lead to potentially dangerous incidents, as visibility can be affected.

“The recipe is there for a tragedy to happen,” Howard said.

Police will continue to monitor the eastbound side of Low Street next to Bradley Fuller Athletic Field, Howard said, adding that pedestrians must also use the crosswalk to travel across the road, rather than take the quickest route near the field entrance.

Howard said he could recall only two pedestrian accidents at the site over the last couple of years.

“But we’ve had a number of near misses,” he added.

Howard said the eastbound side of Low Street near the field opening is designated for live parking only — instances where a driver stays with his or her vehicle. In the future, those parking and leaving their cars could be subjected to fines.

“If that’s what required, I’ll have no problem doing that,” Howard said. The Department of Public Services recently planted “live parking only” signs, he said, so motorists have no excuse not to follow the rules.

Owned by the city and operated by the Newburyport School Department, the fields are used for school athletics but are also rented to various youth sports leagues. When in use, traffic around the fields is very heavy. At the time of the accident, there were several empty cars parked in the “live parking section” when a reporter arrived at the scene.

Compounding the safety issue is the lack of sidewalks on the westbound side of Low Street. The lack of sidewalks is a major factor why a crosswalk hasn’t been nor will be installed there, Howard said.

Tempting as it is, pedestrians are being asked not to cross near the field opening but rather use a crosswalk at Johnson Street and Low Street that connects to Perry Way. Motorists can take advantage of parking on Perry Way while limited parking is also available at the nearby Rupert A. Nock Middle School, according to Howard.