AFTER STUDENT STRUCK BY CAR, ELECTED AND SCHOOL DISTRICT OFFICIALS REAPPLY PRESSURE ON COUNTY TO ADDRESS GLEN COVE AVENUE SAFETY CONCERNS
September 16, 2014 -- Local government and school district officials met at the corner of Kissam Lane and Glen Cove Avenue the past two mornings to discuss ways of improving pedestrian safety at the site where a North Shore Middle School student was struck by a car last Wednesday, and where, at the urging of the School District, a traffic study had only been conducted a few years ago. Fortunately, the student was not seriously hurt and is expected to make a full recovery.
On the scene at one or more points during the past two days were County Legislator Delia Deriggi-Whitten, Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, Middle School Principal Dr. Mark Ferris, Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Robert Cheblicki, and Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia Buatsi, as well as other county and school district officials.
The message from those elected to represent this area and from the School District was clear -while the intersection at Kissam and Glen Cove Avenue is a dangerous one that needs remediation, there needs also to be a focus on the broader area surrounding the two schools.
Dr. Ferris commented that the problem was not only at the intersection, but coming up Kissam Lane as well. He also said that a guardrail along parts of Glen Cove Avenue would also be a good way to go. "We have been writing letters for years explaining what we see as the safety issues here," he said. But when the original traffic study was done, he explained, a police car was present causing drivers to slow down and as result the county had determined that remediation measures were unnecessary. For a study to be accurate, he asserted, it needed to be done under real conditions.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick said that the District would like to have a traffic light and crosswalk at Kissam Lane, as well as a sidewalk on the east side of Glen Cove Avenue from the High School to the four corners in the center of Glen Head. Even if the traffic light is on for just an hour before the start of school and hour after school ends, and blinking yellow the rest of the time, that would greatly improve pedestrian safety at that location, he said.
Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy emphasized the importance of collecting data for the entire area, not just at a single intersection, in order to develop a remediation plan that would best protect the safety of students and pedestrians. In response to questions from Northwordnews, he said that not only was Kissam Lane and Glen Cove Avenue a dangerous spot, but also intersections further north such as where Cross Street, Club Road, and Harbor Way meet Glen Cove Avenue, and therefore should also be included in any traffic study done by the county. He said that he and Legislator Deriggi-Whitten had requested a copy of the study done a few years ago.
Additionally, in the other direction, heading south of the high school, he agreed with Dr. Melnick that a sidewalk along the east side of Glen Cove Avenue to the four corners in the center of Glen Head would greatly enhance safety, as students would not be forced to cross where there is no crosswalk or crossing guard as they try to get to the sidewalk on the west side of the street.
Some of those present also questioned the effectiveness of the speed cameras on Glen Cove Avenue. Legislator Deriggi-Whitten said that they believed they were far too south, across the street from the Bagel Cafe, and should be moved to an area in between the two schools.
Mayor Kennedy, in an interview with Northwordnews, agreed with that assessment and questioned the motives in installing them in the first place. "I'm not opposed to speed cameras, - just disguised speed cameras," he said. "They need to be clearly visible to drivers so that they will slow down." As they are now, he asserted, they are intended to raise money for the county while doing little to protect students' safety. He said that it would be helpful to have digital speed indicators situated near the school as the City of Glen Cove has them situated on Dosoris Lane in front of the schools there. He said he had made the request to the town which seemed receptive to the idea. He also said that the Village of Sea Cliff has set one up on Glen Cove Avenue that will be operational when the solar power panels that have been ordered to power the display arrive.
At this past Thursday's Board of Education Meeting, the issue of pedestrian safety was addressed by Dr. Melnick in his Superintendent's Report. He said he had spoken directly with County Executive Edward Mangano, as well as the County Police Commissioner and the Commissioner of Public Works, and was told that a police officer would be stationed at the intersection at the southeast corner of the Middle School property from 7:30 am to 8:15 am and from 2:30 pm to 3:15 pm while the county conducted a traffic study to determine how pedestrian safety could best be improved at that corner, and until a crossing guard could be assigned there.
While expressing appreciation for the County's response, Board President Herman Berliner said, “We can do better in this regard. We’ve been trying to get some of these things changed for a long time and have not gotten the response. Maybe this [the county’s response] signals a change in how issues like this will be dealt with.”
It appears that at this point the study will only focus on a single intersection and whether the county chooses to take a look at the bigger picture remains uncertain.
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