Until a week and a half ago, drivers on Cliftwood Drive in the Huntington hamlet of Halesite relied on a stop sign for safety when they left their street.
When they exit Cliftwood, a half-mile-long street that leads into a residential neighborhood, they enter busy Park Avenue. It had been an all-way-stop intersection until several weeks ago, when one stop sign on Park was removed.
A second sign, on the northbound lane of Park Avenue, disappeared about 10 days ago. It had provided protection not only for drivers exiting Cliftwood but also for southbound Park Avenue drivers making a left turn onto Cliftwood.
But no more.
"What got me and neighbors is the way it [the stop sign] was removed without notice," Cliftwood resident Peter McGullam told Watchdog.
The sign's absence became clear as residents departed for work or school or errands: Traffic on Park Avenue was not coming to its customary halt.
We paid a visit and, along with McGullam, wondered if the sign's removal might be a temporary measure necessitated by installation of new curbing, part of a major roadwork and drainage project on nearby New York Avenue/Route 110, a state road.
But Huntington Town and Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer's office both told us that the state had informed them the removal was intended to be permanent.
When we asked the state Department of Transportation about the missing sign early last week, we received this response: "NYSDOT is aware of the issue, and is investigating in coordination with the town and Suffolk County. We will let you know when we have additional information."
On Friday, the department made a determination: The sign will not return.
"NYSDOT and Suffolk County engineers evaluated the concerns raised this week," department spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in an email. "Based on traffic volumes, engineering guidelines, and on-site observations, it was determined the current configuration is appropriate."
The intersection is about 50 feet from a new traffic roundabout where Park Avenue ends at New York Avenue. As part of the Route 110 redesign, the Park Avenue-Cliftwood Drive intersection was reworked from an all-way-stop intersection into "a regular stop-controlled T-intersection," Peters told us. "As such, the 'Stop' and 'All Way' signs were removed in accordance with engineering guidelines."
The intersection was realigned, a move Peters said "significantly improved the sight distance from Cliftwood Avenue to northbound traffic approaching from Park Avenue."
And she said a sign -- "Cross Traffic Does Not Stop" -- will be installed on Cliftwood. It will be installed on the Stop Sign post where a hand-printed sign was taped last week: "Careful! No Stop Sign at Park Ave".
We watched one other impact of the stop sign removal: gridlock in the roundabout. It happened when traffic backed up from Park Avenue, where cars were trying to turn left onto Cliftwood. They had a long wait because there's no stop sign to give them an opening.
Restrooms out of order at Jericho park
Robbins Lane Community Park in Jericho looks like every town's dream: A turf playing field dubbed Field of Champions. A spectator area including bleachers and an area with tables and chairs. And, for younger spectators, a playground.
But the dream ends when it's time for a visit to the restrooms.
"DO NOT USE. NO WATER. BATHROOMS ARE BROKEN" says a sign taped to the door of the men's restroom. On the door to the women's: "BATHROOMS OUT OF ORDER."
Watchdog learned of the out-of-order facilities in the Oyster Bay Town park from Violet Sardo of Woodbury who, with her husband, Michael, had gone to the field to watch their grandson's lacrosse game.
Grandparents and parents who frequent such sporting events typically take along coffee, especially on weekend mornings. If the restrooms are locked, a large coffee can pose a problem.
"We had to leave the park and go somewhere else," Sardo said.
So why is such a prized park -- it's less than three years old -- missing such an essential element?
The restrooms were closed because pipes burst during a bitter cold spell last winter, town spokeswoman Marta Kane told us.
The town ordered replacement parts, only to learn they were on back order. Kane said the parts are expected to arrive soon and, once they do, the plumbing will be returned to working order.
The town has put four portable toilets near the spectator area -- a less-than-optimal solution for many of us. Kane put the best possible spin on the temporary facilities: "They're cleaned regularly."