Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
Carol Woodman has a cautionary tale for drivers at the Deer Park train station:
Be careful where you park.
The parking lot, with almost 1,500 marked spaces, is routinely full to overflowing, with cars lining the inner edge of the perimeter and the curbs between the three sections.
When Woodman drove into the lot on a Wednesday in June -- yes, it was a matinee day -- all the marked spaces were taken. She parked along the northeast perimeter and, hours later, found a ticket on her windshield:
"Along curb," the officer had written on the parking ticket, adding that "overflow lot [is] open." The fine: $75.
Woodman was confounded.
"There were no signs posted indicating parking is prohibited -- cars were parked on all perimeters," she wrote to Islip Town. (Though the station has the name of a community in Babylon Town, Islip has jurisdiction because the facility sits just inside the town line.)
Woodman added: "There are no signs indicating that an overflow lot exists -- as I do not commute on a regular basis, how would I be aware?"
Watchdog stopped in the lot on three occasions, once with Woodman. On two Wednesdays at midday, only the cars parked along the north perimeter bore tickets. On a Thursday afternoon, no tickets were in evidence.
When we asked about the ticketing policy, the town said that 50 to 75 parking-out-of-stall tickets are issued each week -- and that "No Parking" signs aren't needed because several "Park in Marked Stalls Only" signs are posted.
"Legally, the cars can only park in marked stalls," town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia wrote in an email.
That doesn't explain why the ticketing policy seems to single out the lot's north side. Asked about the distinction, Birbiglia said it would be "difficult to answer your question based on the snap shot of time when you were there." It's possible other cars were ticketed later, she said.
As for the overflow lot: She said a sign at the west end of the parking lot directs motorists to an adjacent parking area. We found the lot, though we were unable to find the sign.
We wish we could explain how drivers can be expected to know which curbs are available for ticket-free parking and which aren't. For now, we'll just offer directions to the overflow lot:
When you drive into the parking lot, make the first right turn. The lot is at the end.
Richard and Olga Fugallo of Farmingdale were returning from a night at the theater when flashing lights got their attention.
They and other members of the Senior Citizens of Farmingdale were on a bus trip home when, stopped at a traffic signal on Route 110 at Conklin Avenue, they watched as white flashes signaled a Red Light Camera in action. But they couldn't detect any traffic movement that would set it off.
"We were waiting to make the left turn at the Spartan Diner," Richard Fugallo said of the landmark at the intersection. "While we're waiting in the bus -- 50 people -- I said, 'Look at the light go off.' " At least seven or eight cars in the southbound lanes of 110 "got flashes," he said.
The passengers concluded the camera was being activated by vehicles that drove onto the intersection's white line before coming to a stop. "People were stopping but they're stopping on the line, and they're getting flashed," Fugallo said. (Just to be clear: The flashing lights don't always signal that a ticket is in the mail; the images are reviewed by humans to determine if a ticket is warranted.)
A few days later, Fugallo contacted Watchdog to ask about the apparent traffic infraction, which he said no one on the bus was aware of. "There's got to be some rule or some department that can verify" what the violation is, he said.
We put the question to Suffolk County.
Drivers should be "behind the white line" when they stop, county spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said. "If there's a portion of your car that is in the white line, you have not stopped within traffic regulations."
The county's website addresses the issue in the context of right turns on red: Such turns are allowed "but only after bringing your vehicle to a complete stop before the stop line . . ."
As many of us have learned, red light tickets can hit the wallet hard: $50 plus a $30 administrative fee.
"These tickets are expensive," Fugallo said. "It's sort of a crime that people have to pay" when they're unaware of the stop line rule. "I hate seeing anybody get burned."
If there's a silver lining, it's this: Drivers appear to be heeding the lesson. On a recent afternoon at the intersection, during a span of several signal changes, every car on southbound Route 110 stopped in time.