Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
A sign recently posted on the long-vacant property known as the Bellmore Army Base signals a new chapter for neighbors who have watched the site deteriorate for almost two decades:
"Coming Soon Spring 2013/79 New Single Family Homes."
The site, officially known as the Bellmore Logistics Activity Facility, closed in 1996. Since then, residents on the perimeter have endured dust generated by hills of dirt, out-of-control vegetation so tall it blocks sunlight from their yards and a chain-link fence in tatters, topped by rows of rusted barbed wire.
Neighbor Santo DeFiglia called us recently with news of the sign, which touts a new housing development, Country Pointe at North Bellmore. A news release about the development was posted May 15 to the website of the Beechwood Organization, which has built several developments under the Country Pointe brand and two Meadowbrook Pointes, the first in Westbury on the former Roosevelt Raceway site.
Beechwood recently bought the property from the former developer, Kabro Associates, Beechwood vice president Steve Dubb told us last week, and is in the process of obtaining permits so work can begin on roads and sewers. The site has approval for 79 single-family homes, and prices in the low $500,000s are advertised.
DeFiglia, for one, is optimistic that the property will once again be a good neighbor.
In October, and again after the first of the year, Hempstead Town issued notices for violations on the site, including the mounds of dirt. Scheduled court appearances were adjourned in January and again in February, leading neighbors to wonder if the violations would remain unresolved indefinitely.
The most recent court date was scheduled for May 9; a few days later, town spokesman Michael Deery told us that a $1,000 penalty was paid and the property was under new ownership.
Bamboo invades W. Babylon yard
Bamboo is regarded as the rat of the weed world, as Carmela and Richard Curley can testify.
Bamboo intrudes so easily because, underground, its rhizomes extend horizontally -- in this case, under a fence and into the Curleys' West Babylon backyard. When the neighbor cut down his plants, the invasion had already taken root under the Curleys' lawn.
As shoots sprouted throughout their yard in the spring, even between floorboards of the screened-in porch, the couple grew concerned about potential damage to the home's foundation and asked if towns come to neighbors' aid.
Though several communities have banned invasive plants, the laws typically stop short of offering assistance to invaded properties. Babylon Town is in the process of drafting a bamboo measure, spokesman Kevin Bonner said last week.
So the Curleys are on their own.
They tried spraying the shoots with white vinegar but got no results. We learned of some effective strategies from the Suffolk County Cooperative Extension Service:
Frequent mowing prevents successful photosynthesis; the colony of rhizomes will die out.
A systemic herbicide causes shoots to wither; new shoots will have less vigor.
An underground barrier (metal or hard plastic) can block rhizomes.
And keep in mind: One home's efforts will be for naught if neighbors aren't fighting the invader, too.
Red light cameras await signs
Installation of the new round of red light cameras in Nassau County has begun, and a reader has pointed out that the customary warning signs are nowhere to be seen.
Vincent Lee of Westbury asked us whether the county has stopped using the signs that show a traffic signal and the words "photo enforced."
Nassau assures us that signs will be posted at the 50 intersections where new cameras are being installed.
Lee thought it odd that the cameras are operating before the signs are posted. "They should shut them off until the signs are up," he said.
But Nassau hasn't guaranteed that such signs would be used. In the county law authorizing the program, there's no mention that such signs are required. Nassau's Red Light Camera Program website doesn't say that intersections will be identified.
Still, "the county has plans to install signs at the new locations in the coming months as we believe it is fair to alert drivers of the cameras," Nassau's coordinator of traffic safety, Christopher Mistron, said.
In Suffolk, drivers can expect to see such signs when cameras are installed at new locations, according to a statement on the county's Red Light Safety Program website: "There will be signs posted at intersections where red light cameras have been installed."