‘It has taken us six years:’ Community grateful for four-way stop near Richmond nursery school

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 1:27 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2021 at 7:17 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After six years of petitioning the City of Richmond, a nursery school and surrounding community are grateful to see a four-way stop installed at a busy intersection.

“Six years it has taken us to get this. Many failed attempts,” said Joe Cafarella owner of Ms. Bab’s Nursery School in the Fan. “Year after year after year, when you keep having the same problems, it wears you down, it feels good to fix something.”

Since 2017, NBC12 has been reporting on Cafarella and the community’s efforts to make this portion of the Fan, Grove and Stafford Avenues, safer.

Ms. Bab’s Nursery School is feet away from the intersection where the crashes have happened. They say many families walk to Ms. Bab’s and also Fox Elementary School, which is nearby. There have been several accidents over the years with some sending drivers to the hospital.

“You could hear how fast they were going. [Drivers] would see a car door open and you could hear the screeching,” said Anna Knecht, Director of Ms. Bab’s Nursery School. “We almost had a child and a parent almost get hit one time.”

In 2019, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works said a traffic study conducted at the intersection years ago did not meet the requirements to add a four-way stop.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the city council voted “yes” to adding the four-way stop to the intersection. Cafarella says it was an emotional moment.

Days after the city council vote and before the stop signs were installed, there was another accident near the nursery school. One car ended up in the flower bed in front of the home of a grandparent at Ms. Bab’s Nursery, and the parked car of one of the school’s employees was damaged.

Cafarella and Knecht say the crash further proved the urgency of the need for the all-way stop.

The last story [NBC12] did for us, at the end of that week--I was calling Joe, saying ‘they are out here measuring, they putting out lines,’ it was a quick turn around.,” said Knecht.

The all-way stop was finally installed in mid-October, and Knecht and Cafarella say the difference is something that can be seen and heard in the community.

“My desk faces the front windows, so when I sit with the window open I can hear the difference--I am not hearing those screeching tires, not hearing the speed of the cars driving by,” said Knecht.

Cafarella says there seems to be an elevated sense of awareness for the drivers in the area. He also says neighbors are grateful.

“They couldn’t be happier, when we see them in the street, they will be like thank you so much, this is amazing,” he said..

Knecht says the road to getting the all-way stop is proof of a community’s persistence to solve a problem.

“You saw what needed to happen and everybody rallied and did what they could--NBC 12 came out talked to us multiple times, everybody sending emails and letters. Showing up to those community meetings. I don’t think it should go unseen and unthanked because we wouldn’t’ be here without everybody doing that,” she explained.

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