For too long, Ipswich has been a town divided. Two elementary schools, two-and-a-half miles apart. East side kids and west side kids growing up in rival gangs. Every September, two worlds collide as brand-new sixth-graders come together at Ipswich Middle School practically speaking different languages. Hood Pond? What’s that? Sally’s Pond? Who’s Sally?
Soon, all this division will be nothing but a bittersweet memory. The School Committee has done its homework, they’ve surveyed parents and teachers, they’ve rendered their decision, and an extra-special Town Meeting has confirmed their call: We shall have a single, glorious, half-paid-for-by-the-Commonwealth elementary school, rising like a beacon of walkability on the current Winthrop site.
Of course, walkability is as walkability does. West side kids will still come in by bus, just like they did to Doyon. After their long trek over Marini Hill, they’ll be dropped off right at the door of the new one-size-crams-all Winthrop-site school. Kids who live too close to take the bus are officially expected to walk; but of course many parents will choose to drive their children to school. With one elementary school instead of two, the number of driver-parents will effectively double, so the intensity of traffic congestion will ratchet up. With such a crush of cars vying for the school zone, even more parents will drive their little ones to school, just to reduce their odds of being squashed. Since it will be nigh unto impossible to get your first-grader to the door of the school, you’ll finally give up, drop her a block or two away, and offer up a prayer for her safety. Providential side-effect: Ipswich will become a more prayerful place.
Unfortunately, adverse consequences will also ensue. During our twice-a-day downtown gridlock, emergency vehicles will be trapped. While you pray for the children picking their way through the mass of mostly-motionless minivans, please also pray that no fires break out anywhere in town around the start or end of the school day. Police officers will need to plan ahead and station themselves outside the traffic snarl; otherwise we can expect crafty criminals to take advantage of the dual daily paralysis, leading to a spike in burglaries, murders, and maybe even graffiti.
Commuters from other towns who used to drive through Ipswich on their way to and from work will be surprised to find much more traffic choking their regular route. Soon they’ll learn to swing around through Hamilton, which regrettably means fewer of them will be contributing to the Ipswich economy by buying their breakfast snacks here. Another sad side-effect is that they’ll no longer have access to the steady stream of important breaking news offered via the big banners hanging over Five Corners. This may cut significantly into attendance at Chowderfest, Olde Ipswich Days, and vacation Bible schools.
Still, one man’s walkability is another man’s windfall. Sensing opportunity, I am hoping to launch a couple of new enterprises.
- My new company, Winthrop Kid-Drop, will pick up children from designated sites around town and parachute them directly onto the rooftop of the new school building. At the end of the school day, our helicopter will drop one end of a very large tube onto the school grounds, and our high-powered vacuum sweeper will suck your child up in a jiffy. Winthrop Kid-Drop not only keeps your child safe from the angry swarms of competing drivers on the downtown streets, it also keeps you from having to be one of them! Register today!
- Gloucester residents who work in towns beyond Ipswich will enjoy Candlewood Catapult, a service that hurls you directly from the Golf Club to the Dairy Queen — and back again at the end of the workday — entirely bypassing the mess on Central Street. Due to tricky wind patterns, we’re still working out logistics for a similar service to benefit people who commute into Gloucester. Sadly, during testing, we accidentally plunked a couple of volunteers from Rowley into the marsh. If you come across them, please contact me immediately.
- For your generous online contribution, my new charity, Traffic Jam Gram, will deliver a gentle note of encouragement to that blockhead of a driver ahead of you. For a small extra fee, we offer customized cussing.
Doug Brendel comes to you from Planet Outer Linebrook, a place 11 minutes from Winthrop, except when it’s 32. Follow him by clicking “Follow” on your screen now.