Making walk to Oceanside synagogue safer

Eleanor Frankel and Marilyn Weissman are seeking a

Eleanor Frankel and Marilyn Weissman are seeking a crosswalk to make their walk across Oceanside Road to Young Israel Synagogue safer. (Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright)

Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column

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For years we have had problems crossing Oceanside Road to get to our synagogue. Now as we age, with wheelchairs, walkers and canes, we need a pedestrian crossing system that will keep us safe. Please see if you can help us.

-- Marilyn Weissman, Oceanside

Early in the spring Watchdog joined Weissman and a neighbor, Eleanor Frankel, for a stroll to the synagogue, Young Israel. The women have lived in the neighborhood for 55 and 54 years, respectively, and for the past six they've been pleading with officials to make the walk to the synagogue safer.

The synagogue is at Waukena Avenue and Oceanside Road, an intersection with a traffic signal and a crosswalk. A crossing guard is stationed there to assist residents who walk to the synagogue on Saturdays and holidays.

But Weissman and others who live in the blocks south of the synagogue could use help crossing Oceanside Road closer to their homes: That would shorten the distance to the synagogue and address obstacles along the way.

In the block just south of Waukena, bushes extend across the sidewalk. On another block, the path squeezes between a utility pole embedded in one side and a fence. The narrowed space poses a challenge for anyone maneuvering a wheelchair, walker or, for some new families, a baby carriage.

Weissman's efforts to improve the lot of pedestrians began in 2007, when she asked for a lighted overhead sign -- Stop for Pedestrians Crossing. A year later, she submitted a petition filled with neighbors' names. Still, no results.

Now she's asking only for a painted crosswalk and a portable Pedestrian Crossing stanchion on Saturdays and holidays.

Oceanside Road is a Nassau County road, so Watchdog asked the Department of Public Works about the prospects of turning her proposal into reality. Weissman told us that a department representative subsequently visited and took notes. A few days later department spokesman Michael Martino told us the department "will have a traffic engineer investigate and prepare recommendations to improve safety at the site."

For now, Martino said, the county police department's Motor Carrier Safety unit is looking to "increase enforcement of any posted truck restrictions in the area." At least one of the signs that ban commercial trucks was missing, and Weissman said the Public Works representative watched as many, including a cement mixer, rumbled past.

As for the narrowed section of sidewalk: The Long Island Power Authority said the pole meets standards that require an 18-inch setback from the road, and Hempstead Town said the fence meets requirements for enclosing a backyard pool. A guywire from the utility pole poses an obstacle to moving the fence, town spokesman Michael Deery said.

To find guidelines that advocate for pedestrians, we turned to the Federal Highway Administration and Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines: They set a minimum passage width for sidewalks at 32 inches if an obstacle, such as a utility pole, is present.

If that's the standard, the sidewalk between the utility pole and fence doesn't appear to measure up: It comes in at 25 inches.

Weissman has avoided that squeeze by crossing Oceanside Road at one of the side streets south of the synagogue where, she said, "I wait till there's a lull in the traffic."

 

An elevator that's out of order has put at least one patient's medical care on hold.

The elevator is in an office building in Amityville, one of many structures in the village damaged by the force of superstorm Sandy. And though the building reopened for business, the elevator remained out of service.

Gina Barbara of Wantagh said she had been going to a medical office on the second floor of the building, at 217 Merrick Rd., for a few years for treatment including massage therapy and electrical stimulation.

"I'm really at a loss right now," said Barbara, who has cerebral palsy.

Notices of building code violation were issued to the property owner in January, Amityville building inspector John Lauria told us, and when a deadline for compliance was not met, summonses were served. The case has been on the Village Court schedule and adjourned several times. "Now it's almost July," a frustrated Barbara said last week, eight months after Sandy cut off access to the office.

Lauria told us the case is due back in court this week.

Village prosecutor Glenn Nugent confirmed a Tuesday trial date and said the village has "pushed this matter" in an effort to get a trial scheduled.

He anticipated that the case would be resolved Tuesday without a trial.

"They [the property owners] signed a contract with an elevator repair company," he said late last week, and a copy of the contract was faxed to his office.

Village building code isn't the only set of rules in play: The elevator was an essential element in meeting the guidelines of the Americans With Disabilities Act. "There is an obligation [for the building] to maintain accessibility," said Frank Krotschinsky, director of Suffolk County's Office for People With Disabilities.

Let's see what happens Tuesday.