Filth, debris mar hobbyists' boat basin

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Mario Belfiore at the Boat Basin at Christopher Mario Belfiore at the Boat Basin at Christopher Morley Park. A green film covers most of the water's surface and goose droppings pervade the surrounding concrete walkway. (June 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Judy Cartwright

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Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column

Here's one description of the boat basin at Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn: "Hobby enthusiasts can enjoy the 140- by 300-foot boat basin designed for model boats."

And here's another: "The pond has become a waste dump. No one can use it . . . It's a green, vile dump of slime."

The first comes from Nassau County's website. The second, from Roslyn resident Mario Belfiore, who said he has pleaded with county officials to come to the rescue of the site. Belfiore said he got no results from the county, which has owned the park since 1961, so he contacted Watchdog.

Two recent weekday visits to the park made it clear that enjoying the boat basin could prove something of a challenge. A green film covered most of the surface, and a multitude of Canada geese had taken up residence.

No model boat enthusiasts were present -- a good thing, since the surrounding concrete walkway was littered.

The scene is in stark contrast to Belfiore's first glimpse of the facility in 1973, when he and his wife moved to the area. They considered the park the equivalent of the "jewel of the Nile."

"This was paradise," he said, gesturing across the landscape. "We looked at this and asked why would anyone ever need to join a country club?"

Thirty-nine years have passed and though the basin no longer qualifies as paradise, summer's arrival is sure to bring an influx of patrons, some of whom might be planning to put a boat in the water.

Watchdog asked Nassau County about the conditions at the site and what, if anything, is in the offing to make it more inviting. In a written statement, Carnell Foskey, the county's commissioner of parks and recreation, said: "The situation at Christopher Morley Boat Basin has been present for over 20 years as the facility collects runoff from the surrounding areas."

He pointed out that the basin is not a pond but a "man-made structure built for the recreation of model boat sailors" and the runoff includes "debris and goose droppings resulting in a natural phenomenon that supports algae to bloom."

The boat basin would undergo a major renovation if the department's proposal for the county's 2013 capital projects plan is approved, Foskey said. But there's no guarantee: The plan first must pass a series of steps, including approval by the County Legislature.

For now, he said, the basin is scheduled for regular debris collection and cleaning of the surrounding concrete. And the county has hired a professional dog handling service to discourage the geese squatting there and on other county properties. "The dogs will move the geese off park property on a regular basis until they relocate permanently," he said.

So there's reason to expect some good days at the basin this summer. But there's no way to predict when.

Here's hoping your next visit occurs just after the dogs and cleaning crews have departed.

-- JUDY CARTWRIGHT

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Watchdog went to bat for drivers on Coram-Mt. Sinai Road, but we have to report that our efforts didn't score a run.

In October, we wrote about Joel DeGregorio of Middle Island and his concerns about southbound Coram-Mt. Sinai Road at the T intersection with Route 25 in Coram -- a site he said is in "desperate need" of a left-turn arrow. Southbound traffic turning left onto Route 25 sometimes must wait up to five light changes, he said, because of the volume of oncoming traffic exiting a Super Stop & Shop.

The roadway consists of a dedicated right-turn lane and one combination left-turn/through lane.

We took the situation to the state Department of Transportation, which conducted a traffic study early in the spring. Their conclusion: No arrow is needed. The department monitored traffic delays during peak periods and found that 35 of 420 cars making the left turn were delayed more than 60 seconds. That's just more than 8 percent, which the DOT said is not enough to warrant a turn arrow.

In addition, the department said three years of accident data show no pattern of accidents that could be corrected or reduced if the traffic signal were changed.

"We hope your reader understands DOT engineers must be assured that any change in traffic controls would need to improve the safety of motorists at this intersection, and unfortunately, that would not be the case here," DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in an email.

The study determined that 78 percent of southbound vehicles on Coram-Mt. Sinai Road make the right turn. Any change to existing lane configurations would "negatively impact the mobility and safety of the intersection," Peters said, because adding a left-turn lane would result in one combined right-turn/through lane.

Long Islanders with similar traffic safety concerns on state roads can contact the DOT's Regional Traffic Engineering Office at 631-952-6020.

-- MICHAEL R. EBERT

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